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Chapter 4

If you are "special needs", or someone who cares for a person with challenges, no matter how major or minor, how do you deal with that reality?

The gifted singer/songwriter Kenny Rogers recorded a tune a few years ago that gave me the answer to that question. The song is called, "The Gambler", and the lyric that got me through my wife's strokes- and has enabled me to continue even after more than twenty years- are these:

"Every gambler knows the secret to surviving is knowing what [cards] to throw away- knowing what to keep. 'Cause every hand's a winner, and every hand's a loser, and the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep." ("The Gambler", written by Don Schlitz, produced by Larry Butler)

I personally think we can hope for much more than just dying in our sleep. But it's the part about "every hand's a winner, and every hand's a loser" that stopped me in my tracks and gave me the answer I needed.

Perhaps you know how to play Bridge? In tournaments, there may be 10 tables, four players each. The cards have been pre-arranged so that at every table, each person will be playing exactly the same cards. The players 'bid' to make a "contract" to win a particular number of cards, or "tricks".

At some tables, the players will not make their contract, and they lose points. At other tables, players will just barely make their contract, so they accumulate some points.

Then there are some tables where the players not only make their contract, they make even more than they contracted for. They get a bonus. Remember, all of them are playing exactly the same pre-arranged cards, just getting vastly different results!

"Every hand's a winner, and every hand's a loser...". Rogers' song made me realize since you have to play anyway, what's the point unless you play to win?

Draw Poker, another card game, makes a startling point: In draw poker, you are dealt some cards. You can choose if you want to keep all your cards- or you can choose to throw away the ones you don't want, and receive new cards. In other words, you get a "Second Chance" to play your hand.

With Nancy's strokes, as for many people with disabilities, there aren't second chances. The cards you were dealt are the only cards you get to play. That's why you must make the most of them. "Every hand's a winner, and every hand's a loser..." Like I said, you must play to win! An ancient Chinese administrator did exactly that:

Garden of the Humble Administer, China. Sentenced to death, the administrator skillfully played his cards and ended up not only with his life, but this park to enjoy it in.

Rogers sings, "... If you're gonna to play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right." The improvement of your life awaits you. Develop the correct attitude, and all you dream about can be yours.