THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

About 10 years ago, a local doctor stopped by the office to share the following story with me. I get a lot of stories and emails. Sometimes, there is one that comes along that has an important message. This is one that I want to share with you.

The doctor said it was a busy morning, about 8:30 a.m., when an elderly gentleman in his 80s arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He told the staff he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9 a.m.

“I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be more than an hour before someone would be able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

“On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the other doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redressed his wound.

“While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor’s ap­pointment that morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me ‘no,’ that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.

“I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late.

“He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years. I was surprised and asked him ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?’

“He smiled as he patted my hand and said ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.’ True love never dies.”

The doctor continued the story. I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goosebumps on my arms and thought “That is the kind of love I want in my life.” True love is neither physical nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be and will not be. I hope you share this with someone you care about. I just did.



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WITHOUT FASTER economic growth, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicts the U.S. federal budget deficit for 2018-’19 could hit $1 trillion. That would take the national debt to about $21 trillion.

The nonpartisan CBO said federal spending rose only 3% in 2017, or about $130 billion, to $3.982 trillion. At the same time, federal revenues increased a mere 1% or $47 billion.

Individual income tax revenue climbed $39 billion or 2.5%. Corporate taxes fell $3 billion or 1%. This reflected the slow-growing U.S. economy.

The three biggest increases of outlays for the government were the giant entitlements: 3% for Social Security, 4% for Medicare and 2% for Medicaid. The other big budget item is the defense department.

That raises the question of how could Congress pass a sweeping tax reform package that cut taxes for individuals and corporations? The Republican Party and the White House said the tax cuts were necessary to fuel faster economic growth.

Democrats opposed the tax cuts because the majority of the benefits went to corporations and to wealthy Americans. They wanted a bigger percentage of the benefits to go to the lower- and middle-class households. And they wanted tax rate increases for the upper class.

The Republican Party argues that if the tax reform succeeds and growth reaches 3% or more a year, the revenue windfall will far exceed current estimates and the deficits will be paid for by the faster growth. Traditionally, this theory hasn’t worked.

Complicating matters, several weeks ago, Congress avoided a government shutdown by approving a two-year budget deal that gave Republicans an increased defense spending budget in exchange for increased spending on Democrat-favored social programs.

Because of the toxic environment in Washington, this will be a major issue of the midterm elections. Republicans note that during the Obama administration, the Democrats showed no concern about rising deficits.

During those eight years, the national debt rose from $12 trillion to $20 trillion. Democrats argue that the deficit soared as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. Now that the Republicans control Congress and the White House, they are appalled at the reckless spending.

Both political parties know we’re on a collision course with entitlement spending, but neither party has the stomach to do what’s needed to avoid the catastrophe. As the deficits grow and as interest rates rise, interest payments on the debt will crowd out other things the government should be investing in.

Americans cherish the benefits of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. While Republicans want to make the necessary changes to make those programs sustainable, Democrats actually want to expand and pay for them with increased taxes and fees.

There are no easy answers. You can bet the can will be kicked farther down the road.