I don’t want to write a typical Thanksgiving list of things to be thankful for. There is a lot of awful things that transpire in our world every day and I think it takes a lot of strength to look past hatred, anger, violence, hurt, bitterness and selfishness to see all the good that also happens on a daily basis.
I am a believer in the fact that in life we always have peaks and valleys. It seems some people have higher peaks and some have lower valleys. But we all have both. Sometimes your position depends more on your attitude than on actual external factors.
For the past few years it has seemed as if we couldn’t catch a break. It was more than Jim’s diagnosis with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. There were little and big things that added up to a feeling of not only being in a valley, but having a dark cloud overhead as well.
Sometimes, all it takes to get out of that gorge is one person. A friend to pull you out of your miserable depths and to set you on a different course. Sometimes it takes an army.
I now feel as if I have an army pulling me to higher ground. I certainly wasn’t able to get there on my own. Small things add up and big things become game changers.
I am not going to list all of the wonderful things that have happened. But there have been more in the past month than there were in the past year (so it seems). What a difference in my whole world. I can breathe. I can think a little clearer. I can start to figure out who I am.
What I really want you to take from this message isn’t about me. It is about ALL of us. We all need help. We all need that someone who will stand by us in life’s most difficult times. We each have those highs and lows. In a blink of an eye, we can fall from grace.
In this time to reflect on what we have to be thankful for, can we also reflect on what we have done so that others are thankful for us? I encourage each person to examine their contribution to our world. Not just monetary donations to your favorite charity. It is taking the time to visit. It is making sure all parties are invited (and if they aren’t for the sake of being a decent human being, please do not post photos on social media of all the fun you are having without them). It is small gestures like dropping off a bottle of wine, a dinner, a card, a gift card or even just a note to say you are thinking of them. Sometimes, it is just the fact you make an effort that can change the course of another person’s day (or week).
I encourage us all to stop being selfish with our time. Can you spare five minutes to call a friend you care about? Can you take the time and money to purchase a card and write a quick note? Are you in the neighborhood, or even within a mile or two, and can pop by to see if they need help with something?
I can tell you I had a wonderful friend who stopped by one day recently. She knew I was struggling. She text me and told me she was on my front porch. And she was, just sitting with her young daughter on my swing. And she knew I was in bed when I should have been up being productive. And she ignored my mess (me and my home) and she just visited me and loved me and reminded me several times throughout our visit how great I am. She made a difference.
There is another friend who knew I was probably not going to make it to a social gathering taking place close by. She knocked on my door, drink in hand and told me to get ready.
There is the couple who invites me over each month for conversation and drinks.
There are the friends from out of state who send e-mails and texts out of the blue asking how I am.
There is the understanding boss.
There are neighbors who come together to work on my house and provide our family with a place to be without worry of repairs.
There are strangers who have donated financially to help with Jim’s care.
There is the newspaper reporter who tells our story.
There are the very caring friends who help fill the huge gap left by Jim with the kids.
There is the occasional movie date and the lunch or coffee rendezvous.
There is forgiveness at my inadequacies. There is effort without expectations. There is love and support and it all combines to save me. Saving me and therefore saving my children.
I would never know how to repay each and every person who has changed our status from a valley to a rising hill. I am working towards that peak. All while Jim fights to remember us and him and how to be himself.
There is a huge contrast to our struggles, but we both are searching for the answer of who we are. Fortunately, we both are surrounded with many reasons to be thankful.
I am thankful for so much. In the midst of the worst time in my entire life, I am thankful. I encourage each person to search for that which they can be thankful, but also for how they can be the cause for someone else’s thankfulness.