What I Learned from a Colorful Character: Eliminate This Word

Today I’m combining my response to the Blog Challenge for Words Matter Week with my entry in the What I Learned from Colorful Characters groupwrite project.

jacklillie_2007You see, I’ve been married to a colorful character for nearly 43 years. I’ve laughed every day, and I haven’t been bored a single minute. Jack is smart, funny, opinionated, assertive, upbeat, tenacious, independent, determined, self-confident, perfectionistic, and unconventional.

Recently, all the waitresses in the restaurant gathered around the cash register to listen to Jack’s silly banter as he paid for our meal. One of them said, “Y’all have to come back more often to entertain us and keep us from getting bored.”

This week, the election worker who set up the voting machines for us told Jack, “Hey, I remember you from the last election. Glad to see you again.”

Whether we’re at the bank, the grocery store, or the dry cleaners—if Jack has been there before, someone remembers him and smiles.

 When I had a stroke, he took care of me and did all the things I couldn’t do for myself. More importantly, he had the attitude that recovery was the only option. Regardless of what it took, it was just a matter of time before I would be well again. “The improbable can be done immediately,” he said. “But the impossible takes just a little bit longer.”

If I ever say, “I can’t,” he responds, “Eliminate that word from your vocabulary!”

At age 77, he’s slowing down a little, but the word can’t still isn’t in his vocabulary.

Which brings me to Words Matter Week’s Blog Challenge. Each day of the week, the Words Matter blog posts a question and encourages readers to post the response to the question on their own blog. Today’s question is this:

If you had to eliminate one word or phrase from the English language, what would it be? Why?

Jack, my colorful character, taught me the answer to that question, both by words and actions.

I would eliminate the word cannot (can’t) because we are all capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for, and we tend to accomplish what we expect to accomplish. As Henry Ford said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Thanks to Jack, I’ve accomplished far more than I ever expected. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed the journey filled with love and laughter.

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