The Gift of Being Alive

We celebrate this season by giving gifts. My daughter asked my eight year old grandson, Jack, “What do you want for Christmas?” His answer was simply, “I don’t need anything.”

How often we confuse our needs and wants instead of simply celebrating the gift of each day, the gift of being alive. My Father always said, “Live each day as if it were your last.” He did just that his whole life with grace and a sense of humor even for the eighteen years he struggled with Parkinson’s.

Ryan Kules, a veteran, celebrates the anniversary of his Alive Day. Ryan survived an attack with life changing injuries in Iraq in 2005 that killed two of his friends. In an article by David Martin ,Wounded vets celebrate their “Alive Day”, Ryan told how he first heard of this term from Jim Mayer, who had both of his legs blown off 42 years ago in Vietnam. “If I live,” Mayer said, “I’m going to have a party every year on April 25th and I’m going to call it my alive day.”

Mayer is known as “the milkshake man.” “He’s been delivering milkshakes to the hospital rooms of the wounded ever since the first war in Iraq, in 1991.”Mayer said, “to a certain extent, the more severe your injuries, the more thankful that you’re alive.”

Kules said Mayer brought him a milkshake (“I always requested vanilla”). Describing what the ice cream treat meant to him, Kules said, “You’re at Walter Reed. You’ve gone through a tremendous injury and a tremendous transition period. It’s a sense of just being normal again.”

November 29th was the anniversary of Ryan Kules “Alive Day”. He celebrates the gift of this day with his wife and three children, who were all conceived after his injuries. Ryan we celebrate with you and thank you for the gift of your service to us.¬† Thank you too for showing us how to live each day to the fullest.

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