Skip to main content

I am Grateful

“This Thanksgiving is special,” Micah said, once they’d admired the turkey and seated themselves. “It’s the first time in I don’t know how long we have all been together for Thanksgiving. In a way, this takes me back to the beginning of it all, when the four of us declared ourselves a family. Even during the years we drifted apart, we remained a family.

“We never say grace—heck, none of us is religious—but I think, before we eat, we should each say what we are most grateful for. I’ll start. I’m grateful for the three people at this table.”

Calvin paused in carving the turkey and said simply, “Second chances.”

Skye, perhaps predictably said, “My stupid, romantic heart that wouldn’t let me stop loving Reid.”

Reid reached across the table and squeezed his hand.

Micah had to prompt Reid. “What about you, Reid? What are you thankful for?”

Reid pulled his glance away from Skye, and looked at Micah. He indicated Skye sitting opposite him, and said, “I’m grateful for what I see in his eyes.”

—Excerpt, In His Eyes

I’ve been thinking about gratitude a lot lately. We’re just past the traditional season of gratitude, Thanksgiving, I know, but I’ve always operated on my own timetable.

Mostly this blog post on gratitude was prompted as I wrote out thank you cards to everyone who helped out during our dad’s illness. As I thought about who to send a card to, I realized I was grateful for the smallest things, the simplest kindnesses. I have a friend whose first Facebook post each day is: GratefulGratefulGratefulGrateful. I always wondered about this but now I think I understand.
The following is a list—not exhaustive, or complete by any means—of what I am most grateful for.

I am grateful there is a village.
Neighbors who stopped by and walked or fed the dogs while I was in New York with Dad, and Stanley was working, or with me. A neighbor I ran into mentioned that she had seen another neighbor walking the dogs. She was walking Riley but carrying Toby who is older and arthritic and can’t always walk very far, so we carry him. That someone else understood his needs and treated him as we do meant the world to me.

I am grateful for the kindness of strangers.
I remember on two separate occasions when nurses found me crying in the hall outside dad’s room; each stopped and held me until I ran out of tears.

I’m grateful for Dad’s silence.
I dreamt of our dad the other night. In the dream he stood silent, a bird perched on his head. Each time I sat at my dad’s side I waited for him to tell me something. It wasn’t until after he died that I realized we had said everything we needed to, and so we were content to spend time together in companionable silence.

I’m grateful for my home, both physical and emotional.
I’m grateful for our house and Stanley, both of which give me a safe place to lay my head.

I am grateful I stayed my feet on the path He laid for me.
When I left my last job in June after some despicable people did some truly despicable things, I felt lost and betrayed. As the Fall approached and we learned Daddy’s illness was terminal, I came to realize again that all things happen for a reason, that He has a grand plan for us. The action of others had given me the freedom to focus on Dad and spend as much time with him as I could.

I am grateful daddy knew he was loved, knew he was important.
Dad was a quiet man. Not boastful or one for the spotlight. I don’t recall him ever talking about what he did for us, or what sacrifices he made for us. Because I thought it was easy to overlook him, I worried that he didn’t know how important he was, how much he was loved.  I think that changed when he was in the hospital and people he didn’t expect visited him. I remember the look on his face when I walked in with our cousin, his niece, Denese behind me. I remember the wonder in his voice when he told me Karen, my friend from college had come to see him. She arrived without warning and helped him with his lunch and ice cream.

I’m grateful we’re a family.
Death and funerals often tear families apart. We suffered two major losses this year—our Aunt Terpe in January, and Dad in November. With both losses we pulled together and got each other through it.

I am grateful for learning to be grateful.
Daddy’s hospital room had a huge picture window overlooking a courtyard. I was standing at the window staring at nothing in particular. He looked at me looking out the window and he said, “You know every morning, I open my eyes and I look out the window and I think to myself, ‘well, I lived to see another day’.” I had no answer to that. Later, when he could no longer turn his head to look out the window, I did his looking for him, quietly reminding him he had lived to see another day; I’d look out the window and describe the new day to him.

I am grateful for my writer’s talent, for the gift of words, for my ability to tell a story.

One afternoon out of the blue, dad made a specific request about his obituary. I nodded and promised I would make sure his request was honored. “I’ll probably write it,” I said. “I know,” he replied, “That’s why I told you.”

P.S. And Finally, I am grateful Doug Jones beat Roy Moore. I am grateful Americans in Alabama, particularly black Americans, stood up for what is right, went to the polls and cast their votes to take back our countrya country our dad for fought in the Korean war. 


Popular posts from this blog

A Fatherless Father's Day

I remember the accident as if it was yesterday.
I had been living in Washington, D.C. for three years. That particular morning, a Saturday, I was running late for work. It was a gray, wet morning at the edge of Winter. Heavy rain, like molten white gold, fell from an aluminum sky as I blazed along at 80 mph. A gray car merged onto the roadway from the right, then proceeded to move into my lane without signaling. The car was moving so slowly it looked like it was moving backwards. I pressed the brakes hard, pumping steadily with increasing pressure, my right hand tight on the gearshift ready to down shift. Realizing collision was inevitable, I glanced at the speedometer: 60. The impact sent my little car spinning towards the concrete divider separating west-bound traffic from east. The world seemed upside down. I remember thinking, I’m going to die and I never got to be friends with my father. I glanced up at the sky, oddly unafraid, and I swear I saw the hand of God reach down and stop…

Saying Goodbye to My Dad

Today at 10:31 a.m., my dad closed his eyes for the last time. When he did, a part of me died with him.
I’ll accept your condolences but please check your religion at the door. And don’t talk to me of your God and His wisdom and mercy. Not today. Not today. I believe in God, I do. But not today. Not today. Today, I feel He abandoned me and my father when all I could do was hold his hand and rub his head and tell him I loved him; when all his doctors could do was increase his pain medicine and escalate the frequency with which he received them, and swab his mouth with plain gelatin to make up for the water he could no longer drink, the food he could no longer eat.
The first time I, went, alone, to visit dad in the hospital, I arrived in his room while he was still downstairs in radiation. A nurse walked in and asked who I was.
“I’m Larry, his middle son.”
“Oh, you’re the one who lives in Philadelphia!”
“Yes, how did you know that?”
“Your dad talks about you. He talks about all of his…

In a Season of Excess

I am troubled by the times we are living in. We have a Trump-driven, GOP-supported tax “reform” bill that is nothing short of a massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle-class, who comprise 99 percent of the U.S. population to the richest one percent. Over the weekend it was revealed Senator Bob Corker changed his “no” vote to a “yes,” after a tax break that would hand him a windfall of millions was snuck into the bill.
As I ponder the current climate, a season of excess, a world where greed is its own reward, and robbing the poor and middle class to enrich the already wealthy drapes the robbers in gilt-edged robes of glory, I am deeply disappointed. And afraid.
Sure we’ve seen this before, most recently in the Reagan area (who can forget Nancy Reagan wearing red and ordering 4,370 pieces of Lenox china (enough place settings of 19 pieces for 220 people) at a cost of more than $210,000? Who can forget the halcyon days of “Dynasty” and the Carringtons, and “Dallas” and JR Ewing…