Tag: #givethanks

A Week of Gratitude: Day 7 – A Clever Wife

 

My wife loves Halloween. She adores it. She has an actress inside of her and loves playing a new character each year. She starts talking to us in October about the next year’s costumes. This gets debated off and on until something feels right or time picks the costumes for us. She likes us to dress up in themes and over the years we have been ladybugs, the Incredibles, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and this past Halloween, Dia de los Muertos skeletons. From as early as June through Halloween she squirrels away bits and pieces of costumes until a large push at the end gets it done. I like Halloween, but being busy with work I find it hard to muster the time she needs for me to help her. Our children love Halloween too but they hate doing the work to get ready for it and sometimes resist going as a theme because, well, they are teenagers. Each year my wife works really hard to make each of us a wonderful costume while getting variable amounts of help in return. Often there is grumbling about the effort when we want to do something else. Unfortunately, I occasionally add to the discontent.

This past year was a little different because of the lockdowns. We weren’t sure how much Halloween would happen so my wife delayed costume preparation until it started to look like there would be some Halloween after all. Our costumes consisted of gaiters to cover our mouths that had Dia de los Muertos skeletons printed on them. She added some pretty impressive face paint and dark, formal clothes to finish it out. The attached photo is my daughter in her costume. To her credit, my daughter put a lot of effort into her costume while my wife did most of the work for the rest of us.

A Week of Gratitude: Day 5 – Parents

 

On Thanksgiving Day, I have to express gratitude for my parents. When you’re young and stupid it’s easy to take for granted how much your life is shaped for good or ill by your Mom and Dad. The food magically appears, problems get solved with little effort on your part, and there is always someone there to make things better. When you leave the nest, you learn quickly how much work goes into making all of that possible. If you are lucky, and I was lucky, you had parents who modeled the behaviors you will need when you are the one who has to make food appear, solve the problems, and be there to make things better.

Dad is a retired high school teacher and Mom is still a homemaker. With ten of us children running around the house, it took a lot of love and patience to keep things working smoothly. My Dad has a very different personality from mine. He will talk to anyone, which is the worst thing an introverted teenager wants him to do. But I have seen so many people warm to his greeting when I’d have been perfectly content to let them keep having a bad day. He also loves to laugh and to help others. My older son is a lot like him.

A Week of Gratitude: Day 6 – Silver Linings

 

A few years ago I was driving with my daughter to her first year of college. We had bought an old Honda Accord that she was going to use so we drove up together and then I flew home. Her college has a system where students can start their year in August and finish in April or start in January and finish in July. She was on this second track, so we were driving from Texas to Idaho in late December.

A few miles west of Green River, Utah, you get off I-70 and head north on Highway 6 toward Price. Snow had fallen sporadically during the day and left a light coating on the ground. The wind was blowing the fallen snow, which made it hard to see the road and it was getting dark. She was driving at the time, but we decided (or I did, more likely) that I should do the driving since I had spent several years in Michigan and she had never driven in the snow.

A Week of Gratitude: Day 4 – Generous Old Men

 

Shortly after marrying, my wife and I took a trip from Tucson, where we were going to school, to California.  In-between Los Angeles and San Diego our little car started to overheat.  Pulling into a rest-area and lifting the hood, I discovered that one of the brackets holding a pulley on the accessory belt had broken.  While still attached to the frame, the pulley was no longer putting tension on the belt.  Being a newlywed husband with only moderate skills at anything and no tools to speak of, I used a pair of nylon stockings to tie the bracket back to its anchor point (I think I got the idea from an old Cary Grant movie, “Operation Petticoat”).  This was insufficient, of course, but it was enough for us to limp into Carlsbad, California, where I purchased a set of pliers and some bailing wire which I used to wire the bracket to its mount.  The repair was good enough to get us home. (We wound up spending the day in Carlsbad and the next day in San Diego and we had a great time. Never mind that the car was broken.)

Back home, I mentioned the broken bracket to a friend from church.  He referred me to his father, I’ll call him Jim, a retiree who had a mechanic shop in his garage.  Jim re-welded the broken part for me for peanuts.  Over the next few months he taught me how to fix a few other things on the car that needed to be repaired.  During one of our first sessions he told me to remove a part from the front-end (I can’t remember which one) and it was like he was speaking Greek.  I was embarrassed, but he calmly showed me what needed to be done.

Thankful for the Possibilities

 

Yesterday was my Wife’s birthday. We celebrated by going out to a local Italian restaurant owned and operated by an Albanian-born but New York City-raised chef. We live in Southwest Missouri. I’m thankful to live in a country where this is still possible.

Tonight my brother and I will be processing the doe I harvested Monday night. Several pounds of meat will be going into the freezer to help feed the family later. I’m thankful to live in a country where this is still possible.

A Week of Gratitude: Day 1 – Cancer

 

The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, of which I am a member, has asked everyone to post a daily expression of gratitude this week to help aid in healing many of the open wounds in our society. I thought that Ricochet would be a good place to post since this is where I spend most of my “social-media” time.

Ten years ago I had a hernia repaired. During the surgery, the doctor placed a mesh to strengthen the repair. Shortly after my recovery, a lump began to grow above the repair along my beltline. I assumed that it was scar tissue caused by disturbing the underlying tissue to place the mesh so I didn’t do anything about it. I thought that it would be an out-of-pocket cosmetic repair and I used that as justification to avoid having another surgery. Late last year I changed my mind about having it repaired. Constant rubbing by my waistband and belt was causing repeated bleeding and it had grown enough for me to notice a change. My surgeon’s visual diagnosis was a squamous-cell or basal-cell carcinoma, a little scarier than scar tissue, but not anything to worry about. After the resection, the tests came back positive for dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, a rare cancer that is locally aggressive but with a greater than 95% survival rate. Two resections and a round of radiation therapy later I seem to have a clean bill of health.