'I knew I was having problems with my shoulder. ... What I should have done was rest it and let it heal. But not me.'

Tom CookI had an older and wiser sister-in-law that would ask me the same question. From the time I entered high school until she passed away last year she would ask: "Tommy —" that's my "real" name back home in Georgia "— Tommy, if you could do it over again, would you do it?"

Now, she always left this as an open-ended question to allow a teenage boy, and later an adult, to really think about why/what on earth are you doing what you are doing. To reflect.

About a month ago, I had shoulder surgery that really threw my lifestyle off center. I knew I was having problems with my shoulder. But I self-diagnosed it as "old man bursitis."

What I should have done was rest it and let it heal. But not me. Two days after helping my son-in-law raise a barn, I tore the rotator muscle badly. I was simply lifting a piece of furniture. Too late.

Now I am into the healing phase that is driving me nuts.

You see I am an independent kind of fella, like many men. And to wrap this blasted Velcro straitjacket around me and pin my right arm to my chest is downright cruel and unusual punishment. Even as I am typing this article out, my right arm is just barely sticking out from my chest like the useless arms of a T-Rex. It's there, but it doesn't do much!

Even worse is that my hobby, one of the very things I truly get enjoyment out of, is restoring antique furniture and working in the shop next to the house. I want to be productive! And here I am, looking all the part of a wounded and grumpy T-Rex.

And yet, this surgery and recovery have taught me a couple of things as I move into the New Year. Change happens. Pain happens. Getting old happens.

No, sis, I would not want to do this all over again. But I have also learned that there are people that love and care about me. I am not alone.

My prayer is that in the end, after all the therapy, when my shoulder is back to the best it can be, it will be that Tom Cook has changed too. More grateful. More appreciative. More careful. And more deliberate and loving about life.

Now that is something to think about!

Tom Cook is a volunteer chaplain for the Forest Grove Police Department and Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.

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