Solace is in helping to alleviate others’ suffering


“If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap; for a day – go fishing; for a month – get married; for a year – inherit a fortune; for a lifetime – help someone else.”

– Chinese proverb

For those of you who have read my column for a number of years, you know that my family has faced one challenge after another, as all families do.

Life is a journey of challenges, some more visible than others.

While my son continues to struggle to reclaim his health, it brings us some measure of encouragement to know that his story, shared within the pages of the Farm and Dairy, has managed to help others.

Another letter. A letter from yet another woman who had initially spent many years being treated for multiple sclerosis arrived just a short time ago.

Cort’s story of his battle with Lyme Disease, also known as the great imitator, prompted her to find her way to a doctor who knows and treats Lyme.

Her incredibly debilitating symptoms have slowly turned around after a positive Lyme test and subsequent treatment with antibiotics.

Each time a letter such as this one finds its way to us, I tell Cort that he should feel bolstered that his story helped one more person.

I’m not sure that at age 16 this is true comfort, but in time it may be.

All in perception. Much of life is how we perceive our place in it.

I once read the story of a little girl back in the 1930s who came home from school saying, “We’re supposed to bring something to school tomorrow to give to the poor.”

The family was struggling terribly, and though the mother’s first instinct was to say that there was probably no one living near them who was poorer than they were, the grandmother shushed her.

“If you give that child the idea that she is poor at her age, she will grow up always thinking of herself as “poor folk” for the rest of her life.”

So, the grandmother and the mother decided to wrap up the very last jar of home-made jelly that they had in their pantry, adding a little bit of pink ribbon to make it pretty.

After that, whenever there was a problem in their community, that little girl just assumed that she was supposed to be a part of the solution.

Helping others. There is solace in helping to alleviate someone else’s suffering, or even in helping to point them in some direction which will lead toward answers.

A quote attributed to Frank Clark says, “Persons thankful for little things are certain to be the ones with much to be thankful for.”

So, on the days that there doesn’t seem to be much to be thankful for, we have learned to look a little harder.

I am grateful that we finally have a diagnosis after years of searching for one.

I am grateful that we now have a good, caring doctor who is willing to spend time with us when we make the long trip to see him.

II am grateful to have a son who is respectful and appreciative in spite of the fact that many young men his age would be angry and spiteful in light of all that he has had to endure.

We are grateful to have a great, big, caring family in Farm and Dairy readers. Your good wishes continue to be greatly appreciated.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.