I count my blessings. I really do. If I spent time counting the not-so-wonderful stuff of life, I’d probably be counted out.
Blessings, though, I learn are what I use to put one foot in front of the other.
Last week, I put two unrelated blessings together.
In late June, a former Jewish Times colleague, but more importantly a friend of mine and perhaps yours, Marcie Jeffers died after fighting off cancer.
I knew Marcie since high school. She was one of those gorgeous teenage girls that geeks like me would call “untouchable.” Marcie was popular and a great student. We were in our share of honors classes together.
I may write here “untouchable,” but what differentiated Marcie from others was that she was kind and made everyone who called her classmate feel good about themselves.
When I came back from Detroit in 1997 to edit the Baltimore Jewish Times, I was happy to learn that Marcie was working there as a sales rep. We talked over old times, and then she introduced me one day to one of the most remarkable young men I will ever meet. This would be her son Matthew.
I wrote a story about Matthew, who has overcome many surgeries that unfortunately come with his dwarfism. Matthew, however, is one of the most motivating people in this world. The first time I met him for the story, I saw him at a summer basketball camp. He reversed his dribble, moved the ball behind his back and hit the bottom of the net. The other boys on the gym floor were spellbound.
This is the guy Marcie raised. Last winter we learned of how Matt stood in front of the entire Baltimore Ravens Football team and motivated them enough to go on to a Super Bowl. I shook his hand the other day at his mother’s shiva house. I never thought we’d be in this position. As I watched Matt with other people I saw how it was he who was comforting the mourners.
Marcie gave us all this blessing, her wonderful husband Michael and remarkable son Matt. She willed Matt on through the difficult moments of his life. She was such a blessing, and I will remind myself of her will and determination when I am feeling sorry for myself.
My second blessing from last week happened in Rehoboth Beach where I ran into so many Washington Jewish Week readers and friends. This is the place that my wife Lisa and I have come to for healing, for “talks” with the ocean and long walks along the beach. It was also a place we shared for so many years with our two daughters. We have vivid memories and photographs of putting our little girls on the Funland “boat” ride or the carousel and waiting until they were old enough to go with me through the “haunted mansion.”
Now, I take my cellphone camera and with tears in my eyes I photograph my grandson, Nani, who is 3, on the boat ride or the car ride. It is a blessing I love to count. And for the daughters, Nani’s mom DeDe Jacobs-Komisar and his Aunt Emily Minton, the tears flow as well.
These are the blessings worth counting.
We dig on the beach late in the afternoon with Nani’s bucket and shovel. We have our favorite ice cream to eat, and we’ve been renting the same house for so many years that Nani calls it Nana and Poppy’s house.
Years past I’d be walking on Rehoboth Avenue, the resort’s main street, and I’d hear someone call my name only to turn around into the waiting hug of Marcie Jeffers.
She and her family own a home close to Rehoboth.
I expect I’ll see Michael and Matt there in the future. And as my daughters now pass on the blessing of this beach to the next generation, I will readily be waiting to take pictures and give hugs.
And as long as I can continue to do so, Michael and Matt, I’ll remember Marcie each time I decide to take a quiet walk through town.
You can’t stop counting your blessings.
I’m blessed to have known Marcie. I will see her in the words and spiritual command of Matt and the quiet confidence of her husband Michael.
You see Marcie was far from “untouchable.” She was there for us all.
Her son and my daughters and grandson find something special each summer at the beach.
We’ll always be connected.
There are memories to be had at the beach. I love living through them. And I see now that my family’s future generations will connect as well.