How I want to carry on my family’s legacy of hope

Ari Anderson avatar

by Ari Anderson |

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So much of who we are is influenced by our family members. I’m not saying that we have to be exactly like them, and we certainly should do whatever we can to not copy bad behavior. Yet the honorable qualities we see in those close to us have a way of becoming deeply embedded in our souls.

I want to talk about that potential because my great-uncle Daniel Goldberg passed away on Oct. 26.

My family’s legacy

My mom has always told me that I carry the Goldberg gene, which isn’t just biological; it’s a legacy of teaching, particularly in matters of faith from both the Old and New Testaments.

My Uncle Dan’s ministry lasted from the time he was 17 in 1948 until he was 92 this year — almost 75 years! When you commit your life’s work to something for multiple generations, your legacy becomes just as powerful as what you pass down genetically. Dan’s brother, my grandpa Louis Goldberg, also had a ministry that lasted several generations, until he passed away in 2002.

Both of them were what I call great levelers: They excelled at talking on each person’s level, no matter how little that person knew about the Gospel. And they could talk to people from all walks of life.

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My great-uncle could talk to a classroom of Bible students at a seminary and to groups of residents at his nursing home, where he went to live in 2016. Once the pandemic broke out, though, he wasn’t able to preach to groups anymore. The Great Leveler still shared the Gospel one on one during his last few years with his caregivers.

Now I’ll turn this legacy back to myself. With such powerful examples from my great-uncle and Grandpa, I feel led to carry on their life’s work. How? The one-on-one basis may be a great avenue for me.

I’ve expressed my belief in past columns about how I’ve seen miracles, especially when people enter my life at just the right time. Getting people to see these events through my eyes would be an achievement. So many of the nurses who’ve helped with my SMA have given me hope during my hardships; now I want to be an instrument of hope during theirs.

With my new night nurse who just started, I’m hopefully taking small but steady steps forward as far as finding more nursing staff. That’s another sort of hope I can share. Again, the trick is to get people to see events the way I see them.

The letdown and the quick turnaround

Even during times when I’m waiting for a miracle, I have a mountain of memories I can share when one was provided.

For example, once in 1996, when I was in the ninth grade, we got a scary phone call from my agency at midnight: My day nurse had just quit. While I’ve always been highly dependent on nurses to care for me at home, back then I also needed nurses every day at school.

That year I’d seen five day nurses come and go. They’d work a couple months, then leave. That’s a lot of change for anybody to go through, but it was especially unnerving for me since I was so young.

I remember being so depressed as my mom was giving me a pep talk the morning after the call. It’d been a trying year for me, and I felt like I was going through a long, dark tunnel full of letdowns. Little did I know how close I was to the light of hope at the end of that tunnel!

That day, the agency sent another nurse. My mom and I didn’t expect much out of her after all the changes we’d gone through over the past year. I can’t tell you how happily astounded we were when, at the end of the day, the new nurse said, “I really like this case!” After the other nurse’s midnight resignation, it totally blew our socks off that we found a regular replacement the very next day. She lasted awhile, and my days at school were uninterrupted.

Now, it seems, I’m turning a page in my life. I need to become more mature and kind. The best way I know to do that is by giving hope to others. SMA is giving me opportunities to do that with the people who take care of me, as well as others. This gift will help me soar!

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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