How to Grow Old the Right Way Up
Saturday 21st June 2014

23. Grace and Gratitude

I believe I am normally very grateful to life and everyone around me for the abundance I enjoy. However, far too often, I find myself wishing for more money, a house of my own, and in general, for some things to be different to what they are. Thinking of this made me remember a singular moment of gratitude that will probably stay with me forever.
I arrived in England, nearly 30 years ago, with a head full of dreams of fame and fortune and a scholarship that guaranteed my subsistence as a single person only. My husband arrived one month later with a letter of acceptance from Oxford University, no scholarship or grant of any description, holly shoes (full of holes!), U$14 in his pocket, and our two boys, aged 6 and 7. I remember walking the streets of Oxford with my two greatest treasures, dressed in their little blue dungarees, travel present from their poor but overgenerous grandparents, feeling as if I had won the lottery’s biggest prize. And indeed I had, by fulfilling my main dream of bringing my little family to Europe against all odds.
In money terms, we were extremely poor. I went out to clean houses for 8/9 hours, 3 days a week and to London for my post-graduate studies the other 3. Sunday was for the family. My husband wrote endless applications and letters in order to try to get some money to fund his studies and our living in UK.
As Christmas approached, David, our eldest son, wrote a most endearing letter to Father Christmas asking for a Lego Car he was desperate to have. I believe he was very aware of how poor his real Father Christmas was. My husband and I tried to stretch here, cut there, but after the necessary calculations, we definitely didn’t have the £14 for the Lego car. Christmas had only aggravated our situation as the people I cleaned for were on holidays, and there were no gardens for my husband to do or government offices open to answer his constant letters and requests.
However, my son’s eyes bore on us, full of illusion and expectation and we decided to go through the embarrassment of borrowing money in the hope that in January, with the renewal of my cleaning contracts and perhaps the magical appearance of a sponsor for my husband’s studies, we would be able to repay it. Eventually, we did, but it is a miraculous, yet different story.
According to our tradition, on Christmas Eve we gave to the boys all the little presents we had for them, including some from generous friends. On purpose we hid the car under the sofa together with an equivalent present for our youngest son.
Every time a present was read and opened, we could see David’s breath stopping. Each time, he put up with the obvious deception, bravely and graciously.
My husband and I glanced at each other from time to time slightly concerned, but we decided to keep going. When at last it looked as if there were no more presents, David stood up and came to embrace us, making very clear that he was very grateful for our efforts. But his little face said it all. He dropped a very quiet comment on the lines of “I was hoping that dad would have received a scholarship or something and then perhaps Father Christmas would bring me my Lego car.” He immediately checked himself in order to not to sound ungrateful. “But it is ok. All the presents are very very nice. Thank you mum and dad!” And went back to his toys. Then, my husband said: “Wait a minute…” I think there is something else we forgot…” and proceeded to take the Lego car out of its hiding place and another equivalent present for Daniel.
David’s face became bright red and his eyes were as full of tears as mine are, remembering that moment. He jumped to hug our legs saying: “Thank you, thank you…” so many times that it left no doubt that he not only appreciated the present, but that he was somehow aware of the effort it had meant to us.
Perhaps the memory of that moment has always made easy for me to give as much as I can to this grateful child of mine, now a man, who at least twice a year gives me a card that often says that he is very grateful to have me as mother. I have no words to express how grateful I am to have him as a son.
I imagine life, God, the power of our mind or whatever we think brings blessings to our lives, is like a loving father: ready to give. But often, we complain because it is not the right colour or the exact thing we asked for. Would a parent be inclined to give again and again to a child that is never happy with what he/she receives?
That thought keeps me grateful as I have experienced for many years now, that, the more grateful I am, the more I receive, and most importantly, the more I notice whatever I receive. But I still have a long way to go.

Someday I hope to arrive to a state of constant and graceful gratitude.


1. I am not a health practitioner of any description. The tips I will be giving are directly related to my personal experience and my experiences with family and friends who seem to have benefited from those tips. Please if in doubt, always consult a qualified practitioner.
2. With their permission I will be mentioning in these pages the names and expertise of many people who have contributed to my current state of health. See also the Links page. Whenever possible and relevant, I will be leading you to their websites or giving you a direct contact if you ask me. Nobody is or will be paying me or rewarding me in any way for doing so. I will be doing it because they are wonderful practitioners, to whom I owe much and to whom I am very happy to direct people to, for the benefit of all. I don’t and won’t recommend anyone whose help and expertise I haven’t experienced and benefited from directly.