Jasmyn (Or…Of Death and Taxes)

jasmynOur girl Weimaraner Jasmyn died on April 15, 2010. She had undergone surgery to remove a tumor that was choking her. It was cancerous.

Later that day as we were walking into the vet hospital, we got the call that her heart had stopped. She was nine years old. We just missed getting to say goodbye.

For much of the previous year and half, I found myself annoyed with her dog habits and needs. Being a dog somehow did not give her the same knowledge and abilities as I had, as though God actually created her to be different from me. People are that way too. We are not all created equal, but we should be treated as equals.

She used to slobber on me from time to time. I was always annoyed by that but now I would give anything to be slobbered on by her right now.

She smelled like an unusual mix of original Doritos with a slight hint of burnt shoe leather. It wasn’t a pleasant smell to my own sensitive nose but I miss that smell so much right now.

Later that night Tara and I paid our taxes. We went to the Post Office at 7:00PM and unlike years past, it was not open late, but it did have an automated thing to print out postage that was time stamped. The line was almost out the door and the old guy in front of me was rambling on about something and then could not figure out how to operate the machine. My frustration level was growing rapidly.

We already had postage on there so now we were going to waste another dollar on this. The dollar wasn’t the issue but the mere thought of giving the postal service another penny was killing me. I wanted to just wallow in my own self-pity and be angry. I had important things to do and these people were holding me up!

Then they don’t take cash and our debit card is in the car with my wife and other dog. Apparently in the home of Dave Ramsey, his teachings are a mystery to some.

As I walked back in to an even longer line and the same old guy still trying to figure out the machine, I suddenly I realized that my attitude sucked and, quite frankly, I was getting on my own nerves. So I decided to change.

Suddenly we were joking, helping each other with the machine, and giving out leftover stamps to each other as we left so that some people would not have to wait in line as long. All this, in part, because I led the crowd in changing the mood. By simply choosing to smile, helping the old man, and quipping a few jokes. One person, having a rough day, for 15 minutes. That was all.

As I left, I handed a stamp to a couple that just looked worn out and maybe the $0.44 was worth something to them. They were so grateful and tried to pay me back. I have no idea what struggles they are having. I might have made their week.

Even now I cannot shake the feeling that I should have done more. Even in those moments, my selfish nature ruled when I could have easily have bought $30 worth of stamps and handed them out to everyone in line. I know that God would have wanted me to do that.

I wonder what kind of impact that would have had on people there? I wonder if during that moment, I had forgotten my own problems and my own needs and realized that every person in that line was in just as much of a hurry as I was. They have just as many problems and frustrations. I wonder if that is what the apostle Paul meant when he told us to “in humility consider others better than yourselves”?

My view of many things changed that day. I still wish that I had bought those stamps, but my eyes have been more open for many similar opportunities.

I still miss Jasmyn and always will. But I am thankful for our time together and for the memories she leaves with us.

Question: Has your attitude ever sucked like mine? What did you do to change it and what were the results? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Too many times to count, my friend.

    One that stands out to me came when I was at a convention in Atlanta. Between my hotel and the convention hotel there were approximately seven million homeless men each asking for a dollar. After two nights of being annoyed to death by this onslaught, on the third night I grabbed the first guy who approached me and offered him $20 if he’d walk with me to my hotel. He accepted and we walked the three blocks, chatting the whole time. I can’t remember the details of his story today, but he shared it gladly and at the end of our walk, I shook his hand, his eyes met mine and I felt like I got a bargain.

    I did the same thing for each remaining night and what started out as a way to get out of being pestered by beggars turned into a really unique way to meet a stranger and share in his life’s journey, if only for ten or fifteen minutes. I think that the time we spent together, talking, asking & answering questions, being open and genuine, meant more to those men than the $20 I gave each one.

    I know my reason changed during that first walk….

  • Couple of comments here. First, I hear your pain about tax deadlines. Been there, done that, but fortunately have not had to wait in line for an hour… just had to dodge past a line of people running into the post office to file. Shows how great planners we are during tax season.

    Second, I hear you on the doggie issue too. I lost my dog last summer. She was 16 years old, I had her since she was 8 weeks old and could fit in the palm of my hand. She was a bichon frisee and had more miles on her than my mom’s car. She lived in 9 different homes with me, traveled by car thousands of miles in her life and basically was my first child. I spent tons of time and money on her when I was single. It was really hard to see her age and she became deaf and blind. She ran away a couple times and we were able to find her and bring her back except that one day she got hit by a car. We made a little memorial ceremony and buried her in the woods behind our house. I’ve never had a more loyal animal friend. She put up with me through marriage, children and me gradually neglecting her to care for my family. I’d like to be more like Kim: content and patient, taking life one day at a time.

    • We finally took the CPA route this year since I started my own business. Much easier. “Hey Brent (his name), here’s all my crap, you figure it out.” I like it!

      And yes we used a Dave Ramsey ELP!

      I think we’d all agree with this: “I’d like to be more like Kim: content and patient, taking life one day at a time.”

      Thanks for sharing Lily!

  • I can get so self-absorbed, that this is a good reminder to be more aware of others and how I might help, even in a small way.

    And I too lost my dog, Tara, an Australian Shepherd, 3 years ago next month, and I miss her as much now as then. She was the most loyal, loving, giving creature and we all need to learn that posture. The most good she did though, was in befriending two stray cats, who still take care of me. She knew I’d be well taken care of.

    Thanks for a great post.

  • A friend of mine always said, “When we wake up in the morning, we make a concious choice to either be happy, or be miserable. Usually, that initial decision carries us through the day unchanged. It’s hard to force yourself to ‘be happy’ when you don’t want to be, but in our profession (surgery at the time) we see a lot of people carrying bad news around that are a lot happier than we are. What’s making your unhappy today? The guy on the road that cut you off, who doesn’t even know you personally? You’re giving your whole day to a stranger that doesn’t even know you exist. If our patients can be happy with all they have going on, why can’t we?”

    Sorry for the long-windedness, but that comment replays in my mind EVERY day. Especially since I’m one of ‘the patients’ that HAD cancer. You’d think I’d never be in a bad mood again, right? It still takes work some days to ‘be happy’.

    I’m ashamed of that, but that’s what helps me some days to be positive when it’s easier to be miserable.

    • Wow Scott. That is a really cool way of looking at it. I am a big believer in choosing happiness but I never really thought about it truly does start first thing in the morning. Tough pill to swallow but, like a vitamin, one that must be.

      Thanks for sharing!

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