I am grateful for all the lessons my mother taught me and for that part of me she represents in both flesh and spirit. Years after she passed, I still marvel at the things she said, the things she believed and the things she did. She had only an eighth-grade education and was married at 14 to the only husband she would ever have, but she knew innately how to care for her children and provide them more than just food and shelter as she weathered the trials and missteps of growing up with them. I know each and every day what she meant to me, what she taught me and, most gloriously, how many times she forgave me even before I did the things I did that required it.
I am so very grateful for what I have: my wonderful wife, my wonderful children, my two wonderful sisters, a strong roof over my head, a warm bed at night and enough to eat when I am hungry.
I am grateful for my friends who seem to be more important to me, yet fewer and fewer, as I grow older. Maybe the criteria for becoming one are just getting narrower as life teaches how rarely true friends happen by in the first place.
I have learned that the value of one friend is not the same as that of another. It is as unique as the individuals they are. I value one friend because there is absolute trust between us. It is more than comforting to know with a virtual certainty that betrayal will never happen between us, no matter what. I value another because of his willingness to share his wisdom with others in a way he knows it is needed, gently and with great respect. It is redeeming for me to see such graciousness in another human in a world where it is so rare. I value many others because we have shared experiences and share a common understanding of a unique time others cannot know because they were not there. It is a quiet bond that needs no acknowledgement. I have yet to meet all who were there, but if I do, they, too, will be my friend and I am grateful for that.
I am grateful for my health. I am aware of those younger than me who were not so fortunate and whose lives have been cut short, in many cases painfully so. Some were very dear friends.
I am grateful for my dogs Bo and Mickey who are now buried in the warm sand next to the muscadines. They gave me absolute, unfailing, unquestioned loyalty and I am a better person for it.
I am grateful for our cats Weenie, Tiger and Orangie who humble me with their arrogance, sleep an incredible number hours each day and give my wife great satisfaction just having them around to hold and pamper.
I am grateful for all the pain we humans will have to endure if we are to become better stewards of this unique place we call earth. It is only through such pain that we will have any chance of learning how to survive our own inhumanity to ourselves.
I am grateful for my life and all those who have drifted through it, some staying longer than others, for each left a mark the total of which is who I am.
I am incredibly lucky and I am grateful.