When I was little, I took a lot for granted: my health, my family, my two legs, my eyesight, that I’d have a good job someday, that I’d retire with the veritable gold watch, that I’d get married, that I’d take vacations like I did with my family… and the list goes on.
Not spoken assumptions for sure, but all assumptions about life and how it would progress.
Thankfully, I can say that a lot on my list has come true, albeit with a few bumps and unforeseen twists in the road along the way. While I have always been the quietly grateful sort, these days I find I want to give thanks more often and more openly.
As I see my father’s eyesight diminish due to macular degeneration, I find increased beauty in every flower petal I can still enjoy.
In those times I experience my mom getting tense and stressed over a family member being late for a function, I realize I too am frequently stressed out and I give thanks for the realization -- and the relaxing power that comes from reminding myself to breathe more deeply.
When I write an obituary for an industry colleague I knew well -- one I used to sit and swap laughs with at a trade show -- I tear up that he was taken so young by such a fast-moving cancer. And I give thanks that I am still healthy, and still alive to be able to share all of life’s rhythms with my many friends and family.
I recall a good buddy, a younger brother type whose cheek you just wanted to pinch he was so cute. He was a young man who was so talented, both athletically and professionally. His smile and attitude lit up a room. I was eager for him to be done with his university years and his journalism major so I could mentor him. I still feel the pain that he apparently did not see enough to be thankful for himself when he took his own life. I give thanks that I knew him for the time I did.
When I kneel in my garden, running my hands through the warm dirt and talking to a plant I just placed in the ground, requesting that it stay healthy and please tell me if something is wrong so I can fix it, I’m thankful I have the ability to kneel and use my hands.
When I give and receive a warm embrace from my husband, I’m thankful we can work together, travel together, play together, garden together and laugh together and still love each other deeply.
As I do often, I recently stopped to stare at photos on our “Wall of Fame/Infamy” -- wacky poses, memories of good times, family moments, athletic moments -- and my glance fell on a photo of myself with my parents from a couple of decades ago. I look fresh-eyed and eager. My dad has a thick chest and smiles comfortably for the camera, leaning in toward me. My mom has a relaxed glint in her eyes. I let myself sink into the moment of the photo, reliving where and when it was. And I realized that my mom is, in that photo, not that much older than I am now. Where did the time go? So many memories packed in such a relatively short span of time.
This year, I will give thanks for being able to sit once again at the Thanksgiving table with my parents -- who knows how many more years that will be true.
Time does seem to move faster as we get older. So this year, I also give thanks for being given the gift of time, so that I can be thankful for every moment before it’s too late.