When I saw this thankfulness meme, I thought for a moment about participating, but didn't think I could find enough things to be thankful for to get me through the entire month of November.
Sometimes I feel like there are two points of light in my life (spending time with my grandchildren; singing in the CleveOrch Chorus) and everything else is bleakness. But I really do have other things that matter to me. Today is the appropriate day to elucidate these things.
So, on Thanksgiving, a day I always enjoy, I'll share with you the things in my life for which I'm thankful:
- My grandchildren, and the fact that my son and daughter-in-law trust me to be their principal babysitter.
- Making beautiful music with CleveOrch Chorus, and making friends there after moving away from all my Tucson friends twenty-one months ago.
- My children. Tyler and Jaci let me know daily that they care for me. Scott has an enormous heart and is a good person. We're not in contact in the manner Tyler and I are, but we have a quiet bond that endures the absences.
- My mother's health. At 96, she's in decent health. My brothers and sister-in-law and I have concerns about her, but we don't have to worry. Knock wood.
- My brothers and sister-in-law, to whom I've become closer as we have had to join forces to figure out what to do with and about Mother. I always wanted our family to be close; as we age, we are achieving that closeness.
- I have a job and can pay my bills. I am slowly digging out from the real estate fiasco of 2008. I trudge to Akron every day and keep my nose to the monitor to ensure my state of employment continues.
- My old friends: Gail M., who's been a part of my life since 1957; Cheryl K. (PianoLady), who keeps me grounded and shares a Broadway weekend with me every October and who sends great cards on every holiday or change of season—she still writes letters and I cherish those letters; Gail R., who loves singing as much as I do and who is going to Ireland with me next year; Polly P., whose friendship endures despite her high-profile job and busy life; my Washington friends, who love singing and whose friendship I cherish because they knew John and understand my loss; my Tucson friends, who all taught me how to be courageous and come out of my natural introversion.
- My new friends: friends and acquaintances of Tyler and Jaci's who have reached out to me and welcomed me since I moved to Youngstown; and Tani—Tani of the warm heart who opened her world to me and introduced me to all her friends after we met in the play area at the mall. My life is richer for knowing these people.
- Arts. I am thankful for all the art forms I've been able to absorb over the years. I am happy to exercise this knowledge, and I am indebted to all the people who see my work and encourage me, who spur me on. As I look around my home at things I've sewn, knitted, quilted, and beaded, at tables to which I've applied glass in mosaic, at stained glass hangings, at pots I've thrown and boxes I've built from clay slabs, at lampwork beads I've turned over a torch—I am thankful for the ability to learn and absorb.
- Words. I'm thankful for words and my ability to work with them and appreciate them.
- Music. Even though I've placed it last on this list, it's first in my life. It makes my heart beat and gives me a connection to so many people. Music truly defines who I am.
My adoption has clouded my life for the entire 59 years. I consider my life to have been difficult, but when I feel sadness for that difficulty, I hear a story of a person who suffered real—physical, mental, financial, life-altering—difficulty, and I feel ashamed of being so focused on my insignificant difficulties.
John and I shared two years of our lives from mid-1988 to mid-1990. We had much happiness and much extreme sadness. He chose to listen to one who was whispering in his ear; when he made the decision to follow her pleas that he leave me, he felt guilty for hurting me. But he followed his heart rather than worrying about pleasing people, and I saluted that boldness. I had been encouraging him to listen to his own heart, and I had to honor his courage. We remained friends and I reassured him repeatedly that the happiness of our time together far outweighed the sadness. Eventually he realized the error of his ways, quietly opened the door and invited me in, and gave me the most outrageous joys of my life. I miss those joys, but how fortunate I was to have been able to experience them.
So while I may never be able to stop wishing abortion had been available in 1949, I will concede that the joys—my children, my grandchildren, my music, my friends—have been greater and more important that the pain and difficulties I've endured.
May your joys be greater than your pain, and may you have a lovely day of thanksgiving with your family and friends.