Our words are as a sculptor’s minuscule chisels – each forever changing what is left – for better or worse.
Never, ever allow someone else to decide your level of passion.
When a vessel drops anchor to ride out the buffeting of a storm, it is wisdom, not failure to make progress towards the destination. It is good to know within ourselves when we need to find our anchor to ride out a difficult experience . Perseverance is understanding when to anchor and when it is time move forward once more towards our goal.
It’s been a long, long time since the celebration of the colonists, Lincoln’s many national Thanksgivings during the Civil War or the hubbub caused by FDR declaring the third Thursday of November Thanksgiving to add one more week of shopping to the holiday season in hopes of stimulating more spending during the Great Depression – and the subsequent law passed that split the difference by naming the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday, which sometimes meant it was the last and sometimes next to last Thursday in the month.
Thanksgiving has changed over the years, but at the heart of it is the message that remembering the good, what has gone right, what brings us comfort and hope – that is worth remembering and celebrating.
I woke up on this Thanksgiving thinking of a good friend who is saying goodbye to her father. From this day forward, Thanksgiving and the loss of her father will be intermingled. I thought of my own father and how much I would like to spend today sitting beside him in comfortable silence. And I thought of all the blessings I’ve known this year – a roof over my head, a family that loves me, friends who enrich my life in so many ways.
Gratitude doesn’t take away the difficulties, but it most certainly changes how our circumstances affect us. I find myself filled with gratitude today for all the blessings I’ve known and continue to enjoy, and so, despite the loss of this past year or the difficulties it held, I am grateful for all of it.
Tonight, my mother and my brother moved the bed out of her guest room.
Tomorrow morning, a truck will deliver a hospital bed to take its place.
And sometime after that, an ambulance with my father in tow will make the trek from the hospital to my mother’s and father’s home.
Only a week ago, he was sitting on a bench in the warm afternoon sun surrounded by loved ones, relatives, and friends, greeting and shaking hands with anyone who wanted to see him.
Six days ago, he was sitting on his own couch with his beloved dogs, Molly and Cassie, by his side.
Five days ago, he was sitting at the kitchen table with my mother eating dinner before walking around his house, checking and touching this and then that as he moved from room to room.
Three days ago, he was shopping with my mother, helping her push the shopping cart. But his hand kept dropping from the handle. He couldn’t hold the grip with his right hand.
The ambulance arrived and whisked him to the hospital. It appeared to be a mild stroke, and the staff decided to keep him overnight just to watch.
Two days ago, my dad didn’t get to go home as planned. He had a rough night and started having a bit of trouble swallowing. The doctors had some serious, painful talks with my mother. They used words like “new baseline for his alzheimers” and “might not get better”.
One day ago, Dad didn’t get to go home as planned. He had enough trouble swallowing that he didn’t eat, and he didn’t get out of bed. The doctors had even more serious conversations with my mom. They said things like “can’t go home without round-the-clock care”.
Today, my father didn’t get to go home as planned. He failed yet another swallow test. The doctors had more bad news. They used words like “hospice” and “quality of life”. But then, with my mother’s gentle cajoling and patient care, my dad ate some mashed potatoes and pudding. His first food in days.
Tomorrow, my dad is going home. He won’t walk through the door, and he won’t sit on the couch with his beloved Molly and Cassie. But he will be home. Around those he loves and those who love him. My mom says, “We’re just going to go home and live our life.” Sure, it will be with hospital beds, and nurses and social workers. But it will be home.
Tomorrow, my dad is going home.
Don’t take on something new that is not worth sacrificing something else to make it happen. If you’re not willing to sacrifice something you’re doing now or give up something you currently have to make something new happen, you’ll never be willing to do what it takes with this new endeavor to make it succeed.