A Time to Give Thanks
Some days it doesn’t feel like I have a lot to be thankful for. The trouble with getting older is everything you remember is painted with the brushes of the past. Those brushes, the echoes and reflections of the past color everything I do today. And sometimes the colors of my memories of moments long past are dull and lifeless and even forlorn – if you can even imagine such colors.
It’s hard to imagine, but I’m sure that when the moments now in my memory were being made the colors probably were bright, dazzling, vibrant and eye-catching. The grass was greener, the autumn leaves were redder, the sky was bluer, the sun was brighter, the days were longer, the seasons shorter, back in the days when my lifetime stretched before me like an endless highway – a highway so long that it disappeared into the horizon. With forever before me, my choices were infinite and unlimited.
It’s funny how life catches up with you. As John Lennon so aptly said “...Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…“
Now the road that once stretched forever before me, is much shorter and I feel the weight of time slowing me down. My choices are limited not by my imagination but by the constraints of age and the world around me.
My dreams though, are more numerous and more vivid than ever. In my dreams I am ageless and I relive the moments of the past without limits, without age, without constraints. And whether those dreams be good or bad, heavenly or hellish, I am ageless, I am vigorous, I am me.
Thanksgiving is coming up soon and for me, maybe for you too, this time of year lends itself to memories – both good and bad.
My mom died in November – right before Thanksgiving. She died when I was ten. And that memory and all the tears and heartbeat and sadness that it brings, is still as fresh as the day it happened. I can smell the flowers around her casket. I can smell the cloying odor of the funeral home. My mom’s face at rest, though cosmetically enhanced, haunts me still. The “what ifs” flood my mind and tears fill my eyes. What would I have become had she lived?
When she died, my life was ripped apart – literally. I had to go to different places after school as my grandparents – my mom’s parents – were so distraught they were unable to be there for me at that time – although later on, they would become the most important people in my young life. Aunts and uncles who, I don’t think really wanted me, allowed me go to their home after school. I had to wait until my dad picked me up. I felt like a burden on the world. An unwanted problem that no one had the solution for.
Gradually, my grandparents, particularly my grandfather, gave me the love and stability I needed. In fact, my grandfather became my best friend – and to this day I have never had a better, wiser or more loyal friend. He did everything he could to help me achieve whatever goals my dreams conjured up. He ignited my lifelong love of reading by buying me books about Babe Ruth, the solar system, the planets and other topics he knew interested me. I became an avid reader then – I still am. He bought me my first guitar, my first Beatles’ album, encouraged me to follow my musical dreams and write songs.
Then one day, he had a stroke and died – right before my eyes. I was a young man then – no at young boy – but he impact of his death was just as profound and impactful as my mother’s death.
There have been other tragedies in my life, but those I’ve mentioned happened when the tree was young and those became my gnarly roots.
And sometimes, even now, all the memories of my past are colored by those two profound personal tragedies. And sometimes, if I let them, the colors from the past wash out the colors of the now. And with the colors of my life already being muted by the incessant march of time, it would be easy to allow my world to become gray.
But I won’t do that. And I can’t change time – I can’t change my age – I can’t ever be young again. But I can be thankful. I have so many things to be thankful for. And so do you.
I have too many precious things to be thankful for, but here are a few.
I’m thankful for my kids. They’ve remained close to me since they were born. I’ll be going to my youngest son’s house for Thanksgiving this year. My oldest son, who lives closer, comes every week to take me to lunch – we spend time “catching up”- although I’m sure for him it’s not as pleasant a time as it is for me.
I’m thankful that I’m still able to get out everyday and walk for an hour. I’ve been out there everyday walking in rain, snow, cold and the withering heat of summer. But the days I remember the most were the perfect walking days. And never have I ever taken a walk without being thankful that I’m still able to do it.
I’m thankful for our little business and my partner Darcy. She’s put up with me for a long time – no easy task. And every year we struggle along and at the end of each year we look back and realize we’ve made it.
I’m thankful for all the friends we’ve made along the way. They have have supported our small business and helped us through the tough times.
I’m thankful I’ve got a nice place to live. It’s warm and dry. I don’t need a mansion. I’m happy with what I have and thankful for all I have.
We all have a lot to be thankful for – and it isn’t the money you have in the bank. It isn’t the material things you’ve accumulated. It’s not that fancy luxury car in your driveway. The things that you have to be thankful for are easy to find.
Imagine it’s your last day on earth. What things are most important to you? “… and all your money won’t another minute buy…” If you want to know what matters most to you – imagine it’s your last day.
It won’t be your money, your real estate, your stocks, your bonds, your checking account – it won’t be any material thing. It will be the ones who love you and the ones you love. Your family, your friends, your good deeds, and everything you can feel with your good heart. Those are things you’ll be most thankful for on your last day.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…”
It’s Thanksgiving. It’s a time for to give thanks. And if you think you have nothing to be thankful for, think again. You do. You have a lot to be thankful for. You may be struggling financially, your health may not be good, you may not be young anymore, you may have had disappointments and let down… but still you do have a lot to be thankful for – and so do I.
It’s a time to give thanks.