After I had my pacemaker operation, how to get through every day was uppermost in my mind.

Since I am a widow and live alone, the nights were always most challenging, especially when I wondered if I was ever going to get better.

“You would not do well without the operation,” the doctor had said. But why do I have to endure such pain and disability? For what reason had G‑d given me more time?

At the hospital, Why do I have to endure such pain and disability?after trying to eat my tasteless breakfast that had no aroma, the nurse said: “Of course, you won’t be able to get yourself dressed or put on your shoes.”

For the next three months, if I moved my left arm the wrong way, the pacemaker could move. That would not be good.

Once home, I needed help to get my breakfast, shower and get dressed. I didn’t even try to wear shoes. I realized that I would be challenged even opening the door if an emergency arose, but I did not tell my children lest they worry more.

Waking up in the morning and getting out of bed to face the day was difficult, to say the least. I needed help to do laundry, the cooking, the shopping. As for getting the mail, not only did I have to go downstairs and open the heavy door, I would have to reach into the mailbox. Not doable. But I still had to pay the bills.

I called my handy man, who told me, “I put in banisters on staircases every day. I’ll be right over.” After he installed the banister, I could hold on for dear life as I went down the stairs to open the front door.

A member of my family or a friend checked on me every day, bringing in the mail, bringing groceries, or best of all, bringing cooked kosher food. My sister who came often also had difficulties bending and doing common tasks, but she had managed to hide them from me. I thanked everyone and told them how much each good deed, which may have seemed small to them, loomed large in my mind.

The first time I went out of the house was to visit my doctor. I sat and watched the other patients. One elderly man had his arm around an elderly woman who I assumed was his wife. I had to control myself not to cry.

I remembered bringing my mother to the doctor. Mom was wearing her wig, her flowered sweaters and tie shoes; she always helped people. Even when she was in a walker, she would help a lady in a wheelchair and say, “That lady should not have been allowed out alone.” Maybe I should learn from her example, instead of dwelling only on my own problems and disabilities.

Mom spent her life taking care of her mother and mother in-law, her husband and children, and any stranger who happened along.

But maybe I, too, already did that. After all, I took carePutting on a smile can be the greatest gift of my parents, my children and still help take care of my grandchildren. I taught my children to take care of their children, plus help take care of me. My daughter, wearing her hat and her sneakers, sits beside me in the waiting room.

After seeing the doctor, who was pleased with my progress, my daughter said: “Aren’t you happy now that you had the operation?” She smiled. Putting on a smile can be the greatest gift to both give and receive.

I give praise to my children when they call to check up on me. I know I can call them anytime, even in the middle of the night for help. I thank my sister every time she comes by with food or just to sit and talk.

I live every day for the moment when I can help someone else, even if it’s only with a smile or a kind word. I try to do an act of kindness every day for someone less fortunate. I keep a list of my daily acts of kindness or any good deed.

Now I know what I live for, and why G‑d gave me more time.