The ornament hangs on their bathroom mirror. It hangs there so they’ll see it every day. It hangs there to remind them to find something positive, something to smile about. The writing on it is simple and to the point: “Today is a good day to have a good day.”
Tim Trausch was diagnosed with ALS in 2017. As with many, he had been experiencing symptoms for a while. He would have coughing fits and no one could figure out why. Then his speech started to slur. His wife Deanna thought maybe he’d had a stroke. Eventually an ear, nose and throat specialist referred them to a neurologist. From there they got a second opinion confirming the diagnosis: Tim had ALS.
“It was awful, for both of us, and devastating,” Deanna said. “We cried all the way home.” The doctors told them people with ALS live between 2 to 5 five years on average, so they set about putting their affairs in order.
But the news also brought other changes. “It changed our outlook on not putting things off, and doing things right then,” said Deanna. Which brings us back to that ornament. A good friend gave it to them shortly after Tim’s diagnosis, and it has hung on their mirror ever since. “I looked at that and thought that says it all,” Tim said. “I read that every morning. ‘Today is a good day to have a good day.’ You can’t say it without a smile.”
And there has been much to smile about. It has now been more than 6 years since Tim’s diagnosis. They moved from their two-story house to a ranch so Tim could get around easier and so that they’d have time to make new memories in their new home.
Tim uses a walker to get around the house but has a scooter he uses to walk the dog around the neighborhood. Always an outgoing person, these walks are an opportunity to both see and be seen. “Everybody knows him in the neighborhood. He knows more people than I do,” Deanna said “That gets him some independence. And if they don't see him go by, they might come up and ask or give us a call to make sure he's okay.”
Tim and Deanna also make sure there is laugher in their house, and they make sure they are still able to laugh with each other. Recently, Tim slid out of bed and Deanna was unable to get him up off the floor, so she called 911 and their local EMTs came over and helped him back into bed. The next morning, it happened again, and the same team of EMTs came by to help. A bit later Tim and Deanna brought cookies to the station to say thank you, and the EMTs came out to greet them—by their first names. “I said, ‘is it good they know us by our first names?’” Deanna recalled. “I’m just glad they recognized me with my clothes on,” Tim added.
As for that ornament, Tim and Deanna had no idea how that little saying would spread, and spread it has. If there is a trinket with “Today is a good day to have a good day” on it, someone has probably given it to them. “People know that's our saying that we use,” Deanna said.
Tim and Deanna recognize there are hard days, and more hard days ahead. But that doesn’t mean the ornament is wrong. “You're going to have things that happen during the day, but there’s got to be something during the day that you can be thankful for and make you feel good that you had,” Deanna said. “Whether it's just a kind word from somebody or a hand squeeze or a kiss or a hug, we want people to know that that's our positive. How it keeps us positive to find something good in that day.”
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