Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Elevator conversations can be intriguing – sometimes they are extreme in nature, either light or profound.  Yesterday’s was profound. 

The elevator stopped on the fourth floor, where I was waiting.  There were two occupants when I got in to go to the lobby.  A man who, based on his attire and the large number of keys hanging off his belt, was the maintenance man, he was talking with a lady, whom he appeared to know.

My walk was slower than normal, my left foot hurt and it took me a few extra moments to cross over the elevator threshold.   I had walked 23 miles the day before and was feeling the effects.

As I got on, the man said, “Any day I wake up is a good day, it does not matter what comes along. I can handle it, as long as I wake up.”  I looked over and nodded my head in agreement.

The lady did not seem persuaded, so he continued, “I just can’t imagine not waking up.”

This conversation reminded me that I might need to step back and reframe where I am and why I should be grateful.

I don't know about you, but I shuffle a bit first thing in the morning when I get up.  However, I am glad that most mornings, after a few minutes, I loosen up and feel better.  Not everyone feels this way.

Two decades ago, my sister Kathy was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  Just a few years ago, she had days when she could not get out of bed unaided, she walked with a limp, and had trouble moving her fingers.  Once, while visiting my family, I had to close the back of my car because she could not raise her arms high enough to close it.  

But, sometimes assisted by researchers, scientists and doctors, miracles happen.  Kathy is now on a new medicine that has transformed her life.  With determination, physical therapy and constant work, she is in great shape and has regained full range of movement in her arms.  Last time she was here, she closed the back gate of my car.  That’s improvement!

Last year, we walked the Athens, Greece marathon, the original marathon, with three other team members.  We created a team, “America to Anywhere for Arthritis,” and raised almost $40,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. 

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.