Gannon senior learns life lessons from Erie veterans hospital


In life, everyone we meet teaches us something we don’t know.
Whether it be about ourselves, the universe or anything in between.
As I’ve gone through college, I have had the opportunity to meet so many people who have helped me grow and want to continually strive to make the world a happier place.
A particular group of people that has played an important role in my life over the past two years, is a group of veterans at the Erie VA Medical Center, with whom I have been volunteering.
Throughout these two years I have been a part of taking these veterans on field trips, helping with recreation events, attending morning coffee club and most recently, have been their Saturday morning poker dealer.
When I started volunteering, I had the intention of cheering up a few long faces here and there and was just trying to go out of my comfort zone.
But to my unexpected joy, I have been blessed with new great friends who have taught me so much about life by sharing their stories and time with me.
I consider these men some of my closer friends, and the wisdom I have gained from them is priceless.
From the VA poker table, I wanted to share with the world some wisdom that applies to all life situations.
One, try not to spend time looking at a losing hand.
It’s not going to change and you slow down your opportunity to get a winning hand.
Two, sometimes you can have an amazing hand and still get beat.
On the flip side you could get a foot for a hand and win.
Three, in life it’s OK to “fumble, stumble and regroup” (marine saying).
Four, sometimes you eat the bear, but sometimes the bear eats you.
And that’s OK; you just have to keep moving.
Five, everyone you meet has a story to share or a lesson to give.
Try to always listen with open ears and an open heart.
And lastly, six, sometimes in life you don’t get to choose your greatest comrades; the universe chooses for you.
I have been lucky enough to meet a multitude of wonderful people in my lifetime.
I did not expect to meet some of my close friends, but some of my happiest days in the last two years were days that I spent with some of America’s greatest heroes, nurses and staff at the VA.
They have taught me how important it is to live each moment to the fullest, and always find a way to put a smile on my face.
I will carry their wisdom and friendship with me forever.
Along with my great friends from the VA, I thank all of the friends who have taught me monumental lessons and cherish all the unexpected great moments my various friendships have blessed me with.
The world can only become better when we have a genuine concern for those around us, and this may be the most important lesson I have been surprised with through friendship.

Margaret Rutkowski
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