‘Grat group’ takes away the grumps | TheUnion.com

‘Grat group’ takes away the grumps

I get up and realize I still hear that rat scuffling around under my house. I’ve tried two pest control companies so far, and still my little dog Wendy barks and tries to claw through the bathtub to hunt and kill, as is her Shi-Tzu nature.

I feel myself attaining maximum pre-coffee grumpiness, the opposite of the Grass Valley nirvana I usually feel. Going out to the laundry room, I see that my bug guy has helped kill one little mouse under the sink. I have to fix the hole in the wall where it’s been creeping in. I’ve also been instructed to redo all the mesh closings around the bottom of the house, use cement patch on the holes that aren’t covered by wiring, and take down all my bird feeders, which the rat (I have named him Scrabble) has been enjoying.

I grump over to the coffeemaker and then head to my computer.

“Hi, Grat Group!” the first email sings out. “Today I’m grateful for my cancer still being in remission. My scans are stable, and that means great news. Thanks for all your prayers. Love, Barb”. I feel my grumpiness abating. We all have been waiting to hear how her test would go.

The rest of the 30 or so emails are all from the group. There are e-cheers for our breast cancer survivor, and thanks that our prayers for her have been answered. Fred, our lone man at this point, is relieved for Barb, and then gives thanks, as he does every day, for his beautiful wife, daughters, and God. He adds that he is grateful he had a chance to be with his Dad at this death.

This is not a church-based or Christian group, but many of us are spiritual, and in a variety of ways. We’ve got Buddhists, a Unitarian (that would be me), Christian, Jews, and pagans. We send prayers and encouragement for any member of the “Grat Group” who needs it. We are also not a counseling group, but we send our own experience, strength and hope out to our members.

A few minutes later, I have read about Kerry’s work trip to England, Molly’s new job, and Jeannie’s strange health symptoms, which seem to be improving. She is grateful for her husband helping with the kids and not thinking it’s all in her head.

Whatever the problem or fear, the message is couched in thankfulness. I can feel my worries fading as I read on. One single mom writes how glad she is to have a new job, and to be able to take better care of her kids. Another woman, the parent of an autistic child, is grateful for Orange County services that are dramatically improving this little girl’s socialization and speech.

Now it’s my turn. As usual, I have reframed my troubles into positives. It almost annoys me that I cannot wallow any longer!

“Hi Grat Girlies and Fred. I’m grateful today for the financial means to batten down my house and keep Scrabble and his friend out. (The group has been hearing about the rat). I’m happy to be living in a beautiful rural area where the upside is breathtaking beauty right out in my backyard, and the downside is little critters sharing it with me.” I add that Barb is an inspiration to me and reminds me to enjoy each day to the fullest.

So that’s the Grat Group. To some readers, it may seem a bit Pollyanna-ish. Maybe so, but the effect for all of us is far-reaching. Our list keeps growing as people add friends. We have a base in California, but we’re spread all over the state, and Molly is in Seattle, while Stacy writes form New Mexico. We heard for Kerry, with photos, each day while she was in Anglican. We’ve become family.

From a selfish point of view, if I can evolve from a sleepy curmudgeon to a grateful woman in just a few minutes, this group is working. By the way, whether or not this gets published, I’m glad to have had the chance to thank my Grat Girls and Fred for being included in the transformation.


Sue Clark lives in Grass Valley, and is a retired school counselor and transplant from Southern California. She asks that you not hold the latter against her.

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