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  • Writer's pictureMark McMinn

How to Open a Cheese Stick

Who knew there is a Canadian Medical Hall of Fame? One of the inductees is Dr. Henri Breault, who invented the first child-proof cap for prescription pill bottles. I was 9 years old at the time of Dr. Breault's invention, and recall plenty of spoofs during my teenage years involving hammers wielded out of frustration by older adults who simply couldn't open the child-proof pill bottle without destructive force.

Time zooms. Now I'm the older adult. I don't take many pills so my hammer can stay in the shop, but I'm struggling with cheese sticks! They're new to me, so here's the quick backstory: I'm trying to move from three meals a day to two, which may not be the wisest choice because now I just snack in the middle of the day and don't call it lunch. My mid-day non-lunch often involves a handful of peanuts, a cheese-stick, an apple, a cookie, or all of the above. End of backstory.

I'm struggling with cheese sticks!

After a few months of my muttering about bad plastic and faulty manufacturing, and pulling out the kitchen scissors to remove the mauled cheese stick from its plastic fortress, Lisa walked across the kitchen and gently showed me how to open the packaging on a cheese stick by simply pulling apart the two plastic flaps at the top. It's where it says, "Open Here." So now I have the cognitive understanding, but most days I still struggle to make my big fingers agile enough to open the thing.

Lest I just sound like the prototypical old guy complaining, there's an important turn in this story. The more I struggle with making my hands do what I want, the more gratitude I feel. Last Thanksgiving, the pastor of our small, country now-Zoom church asked us to each to write something for which we are grateful. I immediately wrote, "hands." For 62 years I barely noticed them, but this year I see them as one of the most precious gifts of all: God's grace wrapped up in 8 thick, slowing fingers, and 2 opposable thumbs.

These hands still allow me to type at a keyboard, build dry stack rock walls, operate a chainsaw or rototiller, plant Oregon strawberries, and even install a mini-split HVAC system in our little farm market (yes, I'm feeling some pride about this one). With my hands I can touch my dear partner of 42 years. I can wash them for 20 seconds multiple times a day, put on my double mask for pandemic protection, text with family and friends. Regarding this last thing, I'm also grateful for auto-correct.

It has me pondering how my gratitude tends to follow my losses. Now that I have hearing loss, I'm especially grateful to hear some. Now that I can barely open a cheese stick, I'm grateful for hands. I wonder, what would it be like to be grateful even before starting to lose a thing? How many dozens or hundreds of other blessings in life would pour out of my heart?

I wonder, what would it be like to be grateful even before starting to lose a thing?

So that's my prayer this day, that I might see gratitude in things I'm not even losing. God, grant me the gift of noticing the colors all around me today, and vision to see them. May I notice the smiles of others, even if they are hidden behind masks, because smiling eyes really are a thing. Help me see the little green foliage starting to pop up out of the late February soil. Thank you, God, for family, for friends, for those who may someday still become friends, and for those who never will but still are worth noticing and celebrating. Thank you for gifts everywhere, the ones I notice and those just waiting to be noticed.

May I notice the smiles of others, even if they are hidden behind mask, because smiling eyes really are a thing

And thank you, God, for whoever thought of a medical hall of fame, and for all the people who work to make our world a better place through their research, clinical work, and ingenuity. Thank you for child-proof pill bottles and Dr. Henri Breault. Thank you for cheese sticks with "Open Here" written so clearly on the packaging. And thank you for hammers and scissors.

1 Comment

Unknown member
Mar 12, 2021

Your blog gave me many smiles. Thank you, son.

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