THANKSGIVING DAY… Thursday, November 28th… I woke up early this morning, having gotten a good night’s sleep. I immediately began to think about the meaning behind this day – as I do every year, in part, I think, because I am a writer and archivist of the family. Two-thousand-thirteen was a tumultuous year – Angie has been sick and in-and-out of the hospital since early January; Ashley, Stephan and Daisy moved back into my house in early summer and are now waiting to hear if they have a house of their own; Christopher is in the first serious romantic relationship I have known with Chelsey; Erich is approaching his first Christmas as MPU Lead at Sears; Chris H is once again working, and he and Nick are still with me; and I returned to school at NIU in the Fall despite reservations about Angie’s health, and have enjoyed every moment on campus, relishing the independence that my actions presage.
Events in the lives of our extended family also took center stage at various times during the year – Kathy was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and underwent surgery; There were many births among the rented kids and their growing families – Jeff and Olivia Mueller welcomed a new little boy, as did Jennie Irving. Ryan and Sara Rodgers welcomed a little girl, as did Lila and her husband. Sean Rodgers and his wife, Ashley, welcomed a second little boy into their family as well. Paul Fina received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Rose Carr celebrated 10 years cancer-free and Sara Rodgers celebrated her 5 year cancer-free re-birthday. For the last couple of months there have been 8 adults, 2 dogs (for a while it was three), 8 cats and a turtle named Frankie sharing 1311 N. Church Street and although there have been some rough patches, we haven’t killed each other yet.
My Papa has been gone 41 years and Erhard’s mother, Lina, has been gone 17 years, both October 18th; Erhard’s father, Joseph, 13 years June 15th; Mama, 6 years May 12th. Erhard, was gone, 2 years this October 13th; Steve, a year September 22nd, and Mike Ruszczak a year September 26th. Praise the Lord; we lost no one this year, although Angie did give us a series of frights with her health. Time has dulled some of the edges of sorrow, but never for more than a few heartbeats at a time. Yet we survived. We laughed. We celebrated. We moved forward.
I have been so blessed these last twelve months, rescued from disaster and my own devices more times than I can count. My faith in God and his angels has been made stronger; my love for those I call my children, and rented children deepened beyond even what I could have understood just a year ago. My extended family, my friends… whatever is good and holy and sacred in my life I have once again been shown is best expressed by your love, your faith, your assistance. I am fortunate that my daughter-in-law, Ashley, whom I adore, and I have become even better friends since she has lived under my roof – to her immense credit in putting up with all of us.
To say I am thankful seems trite; the actual emotion runs so much deeper. I have learned to not take anything for granted because over the course of this year there have been many times when even putting together a complete meal was a greater challenge than could be met on some days. We came very close to having utilities turned off and had health concerns unaddressed, sometimes for weeks. Automobiles didn't always cooperate with our budgeting plans and long-deferred, but now pressing household maintenance threatened to completely disrupt our lives. Yet we came together and persevered, and triumphed in both large and small ways over the challenges presented to us. Without my family, extended family, and friends, tough times would have been catastrophic.There is little editorial to add, words fail to convey everything I feel, yet as a wordsmith, they are the tools I have been given to communicate my love, my appreciation, my awe. There has always been some debate as to the exact details of that first Thanksgiving, who brought what, who was present… but at the center of that story is a cautionary tale of pride broken into humility and elevated to gratefulness – our own lives, my life mirrors that process, sometimes daily. As we gather with family and friends this day… May serendipity surprise you, may the Lord bless you… may the joy be overflowing…