21 November 2018

Note From Norm: Thanksgiving 2018 and I am Thankful

This Thanksgiving Week there’s a lot in my life for which I am thankful.

Yes, even in a peculiar way I am thankful for the battle I am now waging to win the war against my cancer.

I am thankful I have the will, the strength, the faith and the friends alongside me as I do.

Tecumseh says, “When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

Every morning I rise I see a world swathed in love by those who lift me up in prayer, words of encouragement and acts of kindness.

This month I began radiation treatment that is intended to kill the cancer in my lungs. Today marks the halfway point in this latest round of radiation and chemo.

Cancer is a beast that is persistent and powerful.

I believe I am more powerful.

I am so because of those who have gathered around me, and are in my corner, in this ring against this opponent.

Throughout the past two weeks the Coleman Road Warriors, friends and family of mine, have taken time from their lives to help me live my life by driving me from my home to the Mayo Clinic for my radiation treatments.

It’s been a joy to spend time with each and everyone of them.  We talk about politics.  Life.  Kids.

The future.

Over the past several years my life has been a fast-paced series of adventures around the world.

There are times when focusing so much on the present the rest of one’s life can become a blur.

Cancer has a way of stopping you in your tracks long enough to evaluate the moment you are in, but more importantly, the future you have, and want, in front of you.

A pleasant side-effect of this most recent battle is that I have had time to slow down and reflect.

And, to spend time with friends and family that is less rushed, hurried and harried.

It’s a blessing no longer in disguise.

Back in my younger days the acronym LSD stood for something other than Learn to Slow Down.

I like today’s meaning far more today than I did back then.

Slowing down has required me to measure my strength and to know my limits.

It has required me to eat better.  Sleep better.  Rest more.

Savor the present moment and worry less.

I am not, by nature, a worrier.  That job has largely been left up to my wife who worries enough for both of us and whose steadfast faith and prayers do more for me than I can ever express.

I am surrounded by Prayer Warriors, as well.

I need them.

Thankfully, they are, literally, everywhere.

Gratitude is not something I have ever been in short supply of in my life.

Through each bad time there was never a doubt in my mind that a good time was right around the corner.

This weekend I had the joy of joining an old friend in one of the best places in St. Paul to be when one seeks to be reminded of that:  Mancinis.

In this place I celebrated my election as Mayor of St. Paul with Nick Mancini and thousands of friends and family who were excited for what we could do for the future of our Capitol City.

I celebrated the life of Nick Mancini over a delicious New York Strip Sirloin with his sons, Pat and John, who have carried on his legacy in magnificent fashion.

In their case, greatness (and the capacity for hard work) did not skip a generation-and the lifeforce of Nick is in each of them.

From every corner of Mancini’s old friends, and new ones, came to greet me and encourage me with their good words and expressions of kindness.

Good times.  Bad times.  Each one of them is a thread in the fabric of my life.

It’s easy to be discouraged with what we see, hear and read in the world around us.

Trust me, I have my own moments when I wonder what is going on in the world.

Yet, in America, we had an election, and while it did not turn out the way half the country wanted it to, we still had millions of people come out and vote.

There was no government to deprive them of that vote.  Or to tell them who they must vote for.

Voters peacefully overthrew the power of one party in Congress, and in thousands of races, big and small, decided who would govern them, and who would not.

The beauty of democracy in an election where I lamented about the outcome in so many races(especially in Minnesota!!) nevertheless is cause to reflect how thankful I am, and we should all be, for living in the greatest Country on God’s earth.

Each of us won a winning lottery ticket by being Americans-old and new Americans.

I  am thankful for my country and my fellow Americans.

Cancer is a demon that is determined to win my fight.

But, I come to the battle with gratitude and thanks that the devil cannot begin to fathom.

While not my words I have come to appreciate them as a reminder that I am more than my cancer can ever know.

“The devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm.’

Today I whispered in the devil’s ear, ‘I am the storm.’”

A storm is coming.

And it brings with it a full plate of food tomorrow for a bevy of Coleman’s and Casserly’s from the table of  Laurie Coleman.

For that, and everything else in my life – including each of you – I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!