I woke this morning full of gratitude for so many things. I began ticking them off in my mind and realized that the list never ends. Sitting in my den, looking out the windows at the wisteria blowing in the breeze and watching the oak trees sway just a bit, I've decided to make a list to read on other mornings when I wake in a not so wonderful state to remind me of all that I have.
At my age, the first thing that I am grateful for is that I woke up one more time and have one more day to do with what I will. Lately it seems that friends are suddenly ill or gone, and just being here for another day appears to be a gift in itself. I have already outlived my mom by 13 years. I remember her saying in her latter years that as long as you have your health, you have no real problems. I am grateful that although there is far too much of this ol' body, it serves me well.
I am, of course, grateful for my partner in life and crime, my husband of 46 years, Joe. He still makes me laugh after all these years. He anticipates my wants and needs and fulfills them to the best of his ability, at least until hunting season. Then he becomes a madman and disappears for weeks at a time, for which I am also grateful. This is his time to pursue his love of the outdoors and of the hunt and mine to pursue solitude and renewal. One of the things that he has taught me about life is that we must put ourselves first in order to be content. An example of his advice came many years ago when I was trying to think of a way to rid myself of a friend who dragged me down at every encounter and brought no joy to my life. I had thought of several ways to handle it diplomatically. After going through the list with Joe, his advice was: Just tell her to get the f*** out of your life. Those are the things I need to hear, the things that make me laugh and realize how simple life is when you take care of yourself first. At times, I look at his almost completely white head of hair and smiling face and hope the grim reaper snatches me first because I don't care to be here without him.
I am grateful for my son and my daughter. I won't write about them. After dealing with a big-mouthed mom for all these years, I doubt they'd want that. If I could have chosen my children, I would have chosen the two of them. I would not change a thing about either of them.
I am grateful for my grandchildren. They are the icing on the cake of my life. I have that same feeling that all grandparents must, that I want to freeze them so that they never grow up. They ask the most hilarious things with the most solemn faces. They love stories at bedtime. The older one likes sitcom-like stories about families and dogs and ordinary stuff. The other loves fantasies about butterflies or mosquito hawks that can shrink him and carry him all over the world and is still working on getting me to let him watch Avatar on Netflix. They are truly grandchildren.
I am grateful for my sister, who is the only member of my immediate family still living besides me. She has been there for me through every hardship and happiness in my life. I have been through many "stages" in my life and she has endured them all with good humor and affection that shone through. We are two peas from the same pod, different in a thousand ways and yet I think we both evolved into caring and kind women who try to do good in the world. In the long run, what else is there? Her husband has been like family and I am grateful for his tolerance of his crazy sister-in-law. He, like Joe, has a knack for making just the right hilarious remark at just the right time.
Friends Make the Path a Little Smoother.
I am grateful for all the friends who have enriched my life, some from as early as junior high and some I've met during the last year. Some were students at the school I sold a few years ago. I am grateful to have them in my life. It is gratifying to see that the business I created with a partner allowed so many to have productive careers and lives filled with abundance.
I am especially grateful for two particular friends. They helped me immeasurably during the last difficult months at the school where they worked with me and were endlessly supportive during the actual life of the school. With one of them, I share almost every political and religious belief ; with the other, I share almost none. This is a testament to the fact that our beliefs need not divide us. They have enriched my life, helped me sort out my ideas and find myself in a thousand ways. For that, I am grateful every day. One of them has moved away, but the connection will always be there.
Friends define us, bolster us, offer us the hands that help us over that rocky patch in the path.
I am so grateful for my work. I work at home and am able to stop if I have a burst of energy and want to clean out the garage or fold a load of clothes or just walk outside and look at my flowers. I am grateful that the depositions I edit are not all boring; some are like reading a good book. I am grateful that the women I work for are ethical, conscientious, and patient with me and my many trips and the fact that I sometimes over-obligate myself and their work is late. My work is a joy most of the time and when it's not, it teaches me lessons in patience.
I am grateful for "my spot." When my youngest grandson was very small, he always fought for "his spot." I am grateful for my spot in this world. I was thinking this morning of a disagreement on Facebook with a friend about a political issue. For the two of us, it was over when it was over, and we remain friends. I am so grateful that no one will knock on my door or hers after reading something said so publicly and take us off to prison. We take so much for granted, that we are a beautiful melting pot of different religions, cultures, and political beliefs and are free to think and feel and express our views on a public medium without fear of recrimination. I am truly grateful for that freedom of expression. I think of people living where one never knows when there will be a loud banging on the door and then interrogation, sometimes prison and perhaps even death, and I realize how fortunate I am. That is life for so many in the world. I am grateful for my spot and I do not take that spot for granted.
Sunning by the Pool
I am grateful for the outdoors, for nature in all its many forms: rivers, lakes, birds, animals, oceans, trees, foliage, flowers, and on and on. A former spiritual teacher of mine once said that there are three paths to God: meditation, community service, and nature. For me, it is nature. We just returned from a trip to our tiny cabin in Arkansas. Riding in a boat on the lakes there, walking in the woods, riding my four-wheeler, sitting in a camp chair and listening to the different varieties of birds singing, and listening to the whip-poor-wills as I fell asleep at night renewed my spirit and brought me close to that thing my friend calls nirvana. Being there was food for the spirit.
Finally, I am grateful for my life. It is such an exquisite gift. It's exciting to think of more years to come and adventures to live, knowing that age will bring more challenges and hoping I can meet them with grace. I have found that life truly is an adventure if one lives it with an open heart. I had a dream the other night when we were in Arkansas. I dreamed I was talking to the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. I asked him where we go when we die. His answer was rendered with a smile in his voice: Not too far away. I have no idea what he meant, but I was comforted when he said it.