After the Thanksgiving feasts were finished yesterday, I sorted the day’s newspaper: news in one stack, Black Friday ads in the other. The front page of the Los Angeles Times caught my eye. A large photo featured Mrs. Glaspy, mother of a former NFL player for the Cincinnati Bengals, Chris Henry. Henry died one year ago at age 26 after falling out of a pick-up truck.
Mrs. Glaspy donated Henry’s organs for transplant after his death. Recently she met several of the people who received her son’s organs. The transplants had saved their life. Families retained their loved ones and children still had their parents because of the good Carolyn Glaspy brought from Chris’s death. (For information on how to become an organ donor, contact Donate Life America at http://www.donatelife.net or 804-782-4920.)
According to the article, Glaspy, the recipients, and their families spent a long time talking about the meaning of life and the ways Chris Henry’s life will always be with them. David Zucchino closes the article with this image:
“Before Glaspy left, there was one more thing she needed. She asked Elliott if she could listen to her son’s lungs. Someone found a stethoscope. Elliott inhaled deeply. The mother of the late Chris Henry put the stethoscope to [Elliot’s] chest and heard her son’s lungs breathe, flowing cleanly, delivering life” (Lost Life Revives Four Others, David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times, 11/25/1010).
Chris Henry’s life-giving transplants were the perfect antidote for the Black Friday ads sliding off my coffee table. As I thumbed through ads, none of them seemed as important as they had before I read the Henry/Glaspy story. Although there are items I want, there are none I need, I realized.
It sounds trite, but I already have what I need: life, family whom I love, good enough health, a home that’s more than comfortable, food to eat, and medical care. There’s beauty in the world around me, friends with whom to connect, and faith that puts my life in a context larger than myself. I still need to find a tangible way to help others, but I won’t find that in stores.
As I reflected on the difference between want and need, one of my dogs stretched contentedly in the warmth coming from my fireplace. The slippery ads went in the newspaper basket and I decided to stay home on Black Friday morning. The replacement items we need will be on sale another day.
Thanksgiving evening was the perfect ending for a day given to gratitude: a quiet candlelight dinner and a front page story about that which has value beyond money—love, life, and giving to others. It was a Thanksgiving to remember.