Maybe We Just Need to Be Better

We have been dealing with a scary medical emergency in our family this week.  My father-in-law had a subdural hematoma that led to a trip to the hospital and surgery.  I am happy to report that he is progressing at a remarkable pace, and we are optimistic that he will make a full recovery.

Extended time spent in a hospital affords you with ample opportunities to witness people acting their best in the face of some of the worst circumstances.  I was fortunate to observe and interact with ICU nurses who executed their duties with efficiency and empathy.  The neurosurgeon who performed the surgery was skilled and compassionate in equal measure.  The surgical liaison who provided us with updates from the operating room started to cry as she saw me cry with relief after finding out the surgery was a success, sharing in a life-changing moment.

When faced with hours upon hours in hospital waiting rooms you also have plenty of time with your thoughts. Given the gravity of the situation it is natural that I found myself reflecting on my father-in-law’s life.  In the eighteen years since I first met him, he has become one of my favorite people based on his integrity and his character.  He is a retired career Army man who served his country in Vietnam.  He is a father and role model to four children and a devoted husband of fifty-eight years.  As we sit on opposite sides of the political fence he often enjoys engaging me in rousing debates, but they always end with laughter and a hug.

I can tell you that in the nearly two decades that I have known my father-in-law I have never once heard him complain about his life.  I have never heard him deflect responsibility away from himself and onto another.  He carries himself with a quiet strength and an abundance of patience.  He does not care to be the center of attention, but when he does speak out it is sure to have an impact.  He may be great in the eyes of his family, but to most others he is an ordinary guy.  In the simplest of terms, he is a good man.  I believe we can take a lesson from people like the hospital staff and from people like my husband’s father.  Maybe we don’t need to be great.  Maybe we just need to be better. 



So much of what we see and hear on the news and on social media these days is a massive blame game.  People are divesting themselves of any responsibility for their actions without a thought.  It can’t possibly be my fault because of racism, the environment, reverse discrimination, profiling, stress, age, gender, the economy, a difficult childhood, the educational system, the weather, the tides, the color of one’s socks, etc.  What if we all agreed to step up and make the effort to just be better?  Is it so wrong to ask people to be accountable for their own choices and their own actions?

I issued myself a challenge five years ago to be a better person.  I am one now, though I still have much progress to be made.  Today I am re-issuing that challenge to myself, and I am implementing the mantra to “just be better”.  I will not allow myself to shift or deflect blame, and I will take full responsibility for me.  I will continue working on being better to those around me and to those I have yet to meet.

I ask you to join me on this quest to “just be better”.  We can lead by example and pass the message on to others.  We can show people to be proud by being good and by doing good.  We can just be better.

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50 thoughts on “Maybe We Just Need to Be Better

  1. I like the new mantra, I’ve personally made similar strides in my life since separating/divorce last year. Hope the father in law continues to recover and thankful he is still around to set you straight on political debates LOL.

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  2. “Maybe we don’t need to be great. Maybe we just need to be better.”

    Yes! Maybe the best two sentences I’ve read today. I join you in your challenge. And I am glad to hear the surgery was successful. I pray your father-in-law continues to do well. He sounds like a very good man indeed.

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  3. I agree, personal responsibility is something that we all need to learn yet sadly lacking for so many of us. I will take up your challenge!

    Wishing your father-in-law a quick recovery, he sounds like an awesome guy!

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  4. A great challenge to us and I will happily join in you that quest. Am glad to hear that this world isn’t going to lose a good man quite yet. Am glad to know there will be a living model for others to emulate!

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    • I am pleased to have you along for the ride!!

      I am sure we all know good, decent people who should be emulated. Unfortunately they are rarely the ones in the spotlight, so they don’t get the recognition they deserve. I will gladly keep him here as long as possible. 🙂

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  5. Your description of your father-in-law is powerful. He does sound like a remarkable man and I’m so grateful that he’s doing better. I’ve spent many hours sitting in hospitals and that does always affect me in some way, not always positive, though. Your challenge is one I take to heart!

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    • I can see how hospitals do not always bring forth positive thoughts for sure. I am thankful not to have come away in a very different state of mind.

      I am happy to have you along for the “just be better” challenge! 🙂

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  6. I’m so glad to read that your father-in-law is doing better! I remember you mentioning a family medical emergency — Surely, it was a very stressful time but I’m glad the hospital staff was so caring!
    Your father-in-law sounds like an extraordinary man — and your post leaves me with a very important message — we don’t need to be great, just better! And take full responsibility..
    Thank you for sharing this with us…
    Warmest wishes to you all,
    *Lia

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    • Thank you, as always, for your warm and encouraging words. 🙂

      He has progressed to the rehab stage, and his first day today went well. We are hoping he will be discharged and back to the comfort of his home within a few days. If you saw his condition this time last week you wouldn’t believe how far he has come. We are grateful beyond words.

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      • Wow! What a strong and resilient person he is! I’m glad he’s making great progress in a short amount of time.
        Home is the best place to be so I’m sure he’ll be happy to return there soon.
        All my very best to him and all of you!

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  7. So glad to hear he is doing ok and recovering! Your father-in-law sounds a lot like my pops! Humble, strong, quiet and just an all around good person. So awesome to have in your life! And yes, my pops and I are on opposite sides of a lot of ideals but we both respect each others opinions.
    Love this post Karen! We don’t have to be amazing perfect people, just better. I am 100% with you on being better! Hugs to you and your family!

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    • Thank you for all of the support- it is so appreciated! I am glad you have a person like this in your life, too!

      Better isn’t too much to ask! Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll look forward to hearing all about your next adventure. 🙂

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  8. This is such an excellent post Karen. I am SO glad to read that things are optimistic regarding your father-in-law, a very dear man to you.
    As a pastor, often I see people challenge themselves to be a better person after the death of someone who was a great man or woman. So cool to see your father-in-law alive for him himself to read of his impact that he has made, and no doubt will continue to make during his time on earth.
    To have this post read and shared around the world I know Karen will be far reaching. You are such an incredible person yourself. Challenging yourself to be better 5 years ago continues to live on. I see so much positivity and inspiration in you.
    Thank you for sharing! 🙂
    ~Carl~

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    • Thank you for the ever-kind and encouraging words, Carl! You touched on a great point- far too often we wait until someone is gone to realize what they meant to us and/or to pay tribute to them. Why not do so while they are still with us so that they can be further honored by our actions? I love it! 🙂

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  9. I’m so glad to hear your father in law is doing well! He should continue down the path of full recovery. He must be a very good man to inspire you to recommit to challenge yourself to be a better person. I have been pushing myself to do better as well, trying to be more understanding and patient with others. I hope it catches on!

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  10. I’ve missed so much… I’m so glad that amommasview reblogged this. Much strength and blessings to your family as he continues to recover!

    e

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  11. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #22 | A Momma's View

    • Thank you, and you are counted in! His recovery is exceeding expectations. In fact, he has hopes of getting back to his two to three days of golf per week. The body is, at times, amazing in its ability to repair itself. Thank you for the kind thoughts.

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