Real Help for Real Living: Can I tell you how bad my anniversary was? Well, I’m gonna tell you anyway

I had great plans for my anniversary. However, the day’s start got delayed with me investigating why water came through the garage ceiling. Later that day, my daughter needed to get a costume for a “Comic-Con” festival she and her boyfriend were attending. Out the window went my plans as my wife drove her to the store. When they got home, the day was over. That was Friday.

Hoping to redeem Friday, I woke my wife with plans, just one-day delayed. Later while unloading the dishwasher, we discovered a broken glass inside. While we got most of it out, some fell into the “land beyond fingers” in the bottom of the washer. After trying unsuccessfully to reach it, we decided to remove the dishwasher from under the cabinet. Getting it out was a nightmare. We pulled and pulled and pulled and (well you get the idea). Finally we got it out, turned it on its side and two pieces of glass fell out. Now we had to reinstall it.

There was a board in the opening that was attached with three screws. I unscrewed them to remove the board so I could easily reinstall the dishwasher. Then, when I went to pull three nails out of the board I removed, it broke in half. When I attempted to repair it with super glue, I glued my fingers together. I finally fixed it with five-minute epoxy. After getting it back in place, I had one thing left to reinstall: the wood trim on the front of the counter.

I fired up the air compressor and got out the pneumatic nailer. As I popped in the last nail, I heard a loud sound from the garage. The pressure regulator on the air compressor blew a quarter-inch hole and was shooting air out of it. I bought a new regulator thinking this was going to be a quick swap. However, I couldn’t remove a brass fitting from the old unit. It was in so tight I deformed it trying to remove it. Now I had to get a new fitting to put the air compressor together. Needless to say, any attempt at a romantic anniversary went out the window.

By now it was Monday.

On Tuesday I received an email from my cousin Linda, who is my age. Twice in her life she has fought cancer and won. She was about to go for a third round of battling this dreaded disease.

Suddenly, anniversary plans, removal of dishwashers, broken board, super-glued fingers and exploding pressure regulators vanished from memory. If I had been drinking, I would have immediately sobered up. I was at a party but there was no alcohol there. It was a “pity party” and I sang at the top of my lungs, “woe is me.”

This put things into perspective. This was my cousin. Nothing else mattered.

The real hero of this story is my cousin. She is the one who said, “Go ahead cancer, bring it on. In fact, bring on your very best. You don’t know who you’re messing with. This time you are going down and going down for good.”

Her attitude reminds me of  scripture verse Proverbs 24: 15-17 that says, “O evil man, leave the upright man alone and quit trying to cheat him out of his rights. Don’t you know that this good man, though you trip him up seven times, will each time rise again? But one calamity is enough to lay you low.”

It’s been said that it’s not what happens to you, but what happens in you. Each of us has a choice as to how we respond to what life throws at us. Life will always throw things at us.

I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well, my friend.

Rev. Tony Marciano is executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Find more information at

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