Off The Press

November 30, 2010

By Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor

Cindy sat alone in the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance waiting room. She was waiting to enter the infusion area for some chemotherapy. As has become a routine for me, I walked over to say hi and to let her know I was a cancer warrior, too.

She smiled. I will never forget that smile. Cindy seemed at peace.

Peace. Isn’t that what most people want this time of year?

I realize it’s hard for some people to think of peace. Yes, for many, it’s been a tough year.

Some people are upset with the ailing economy.

Some people lost jobs. As a result of losing jobs, they were unable to pay the mortgage and inevitably lost their homes.

Some people kept their jobs, but because of company cutbacks, were offered only part-time work and lost their health benefits.

Health care. I don’t even want to think about that issue, which has divided much of the nation right from the start of the year.

Some people are still upset over the results of the November elections.

Some people may have learned this year they had an incurable disease and had just days, weeks or months to live.

Whatever the issues, I’m sure many people in the local community and throughout the nation, believe they have a reason for not being at peace this month.

But this is a month when religious people and non-religious ones should be at peace.

Yet, some people feel pressured this month. Will Grandpa Fred appreciate the bottle of Old Spice? Will Uncle Benjamin like the plate of latkes? How will we afford that $100 Noble fir? How are we going to feed 10 people for Christmas dinner this year, much less entertain them?

The worries. The crowded malls. The bills. People can feel their stomachs tightening up already.

But before you reach for the Advil, or a bottle of something else, take a moment and think of peace.

How does one find peace?

Well, I don’t have the ultimate answer but I have some ideas.

If you are a family of wealth, and haven’t donated to a charity yet, make a donation. You will feel better, and so will others who are in need.

If you don’t have the fiscal means but have the physical means, volunteer time at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen, or organize a food drive in your community and take a load of food to a food bank. You will feel better, and so will others who are in need.

Oh, if you are an animal lover, animal shelters need supplies, too. So, you could always organize a drive for animal shelters. You will feel better, and so will those homeless dogs and cats.

Perhaps you don’t have the time to donate hours, well, how about cleaning out the old closet. If you have extra blankets, coats and other miscellaneous clothing, take it to a shelter. There are a lot of homeless folks out in the cold who could use some warm things this winter.

Give. You will feel better, and so will others who are in need.

OK, maybe you don’t have the money, the time, the clothing, well, here’s one thing you can give this time of year — a smile. Not to someone you expect a return smile from, like a friend or family member. Smile at a stranger. Some people might think you are a bit strange at first. Some people may frown at you. Eventually, you will find someone who will return the smile. You will feel better, and so will others.

At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, when I go there for an examination or to pick up a prescription, I smile at other patients and say, “Have a good day.” It means a lot to them.

Back to Cindy. She is a longtime cancer warrior. When I met her, Cindy said she had been in remission three times. This time the cancer was back again and incurable. Yet, she seemed at peace. I told her I would pray for her and she smiled. I will always remember that smile. She was at peace.

This is the time of year when many people pray for miracles. What a miracle it would be if everyone in the community and in the world would be at peace this month! Who knows, it just might be catching!

Happy holidays.

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or Comment at

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