My mom told me this story today: her friend (who graciously lets us stay at her Azores cabin) hosts an annual dinner at her home in Napa. She invites her family and friends. As is typical whenever you gather a group of Portuguese people together, the conversation turns to aches and pains and illnesses, each person trying to win the misery contest.

This time, as they were sitting to dinner, my mother’s friend made this announcement, “Every year we gather together and we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. And every year we spend our time complaining about our health. As you know, Herminia usually joins us.
This year she can’t because she is in the hospital, far sicker than any of us.
So tonight I don’t want to hear a single
complaint about your problems.”

The table fell silent, and as the evening progressed, there was not a single complaint. Hurray for the friend who stood up and won’t stand for the constant one-up-man ship of complaint that is an epidemic among my mother’s contemporaries.

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