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For Which I am Grateful

2004-11-24

Category: philosophies

Yep, it's time for that Thanksgiving Holiday. I take one of my semi-annual trips to Arkansas to spend time with my father and other relatives. This year's trip is timed to coincide with a rather large winter storm stomping across Missouri. It'll be fun; no, really.

This particular holiday (supposedly) sets aside time to reflect on the things in your life for which you should be grateful. I try to think about these things more often than just once a year, but it's still good to do so in a ceremonial manner. I have plenty for which to be thankful.

I'm not rich. I'm not all that powerful (in accordance with my agreement with the space aliens). I'm not married. I haven't had children yet. I've got a bad heart. I went bankrupt a couple of years ago. I'm building up debt in the form of student loans as I get re-educated. I'm surrounded all day by people half my age. Some people would not see much for which to be thankful.

Note above that I said I'm going to go visit my father. That's the key. He is a stalwart fellow who deals with everything as it comes up. Everyone who meets him respects him; most like him. He gets up and goes to work no matter what. He says things like, "No use worrying about if you can't do anything about it."

I remember being a small child and climbing up onto the arm of his chair while he was trying to read the Sunday paper. Eventually I could pester him into reading the comics to me. He explained to me that the little black marks on the paper stood for sounds and, when put together, made words. That started my fascination with the written word and all the knowledge, wisdom, and entertainment that goes along with it. All that from a man with a sixth grade education and a mail order GED.

In later years, I went to work with him. Things were tough in the construction world so he subcontracted a residential remodel job. I had experience from shop classes but had never hacked on somebody's home. (My shop teacher told me, "Bob, woodworking is not your forte.") When I expressed concern over being more trouble than help, my father settled me out. He said, "I don't know what I'm doing either. I just go do it till it's done. Do the best you can and if you mess up we'll just do it again until it's right." Over the years, that advice has taken me confidently through many situations where I had no idea what I should be doing.

I have a few neat awards on the walls. I've been given plenty of accolades for various minor things. There's a stack of certificates in the sword chest atop my dresser. The greatest compliment I ever received was when my sister said I reminded her of our father.

Does it matter that I'm not rich? No, I'll cope as best I can. Does it matter that I have a bad heart? Doesn't do any good to worry about it. Regardless of what happens in my life, I can cope because of all the things I learned from my father. This Thanksgiving I can spend a lot of time being thankful for the things in life or I can save a lot of time and just be thankful for my father. All the other things are result of his good work.

(Note for those who were wondering: My mother's a nut job. It's not her fault, of course, because her own parents were really screwed up. My siblings and I think that we've accomplished things despite her influences.)


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