The gratitude list.

May 27, 2011 § 13 Comments

Hot Tamale plays Havana

I turn the tap and water comes out.  Whether hot or cold, it is never rusty like the water from the pump at my grandmother’s.

Or Kool-Aid purple like the water in the brand new subdivision I moved to in the fourth grade.

Or clouded with particulates like the water that came down the pipeline when we lived in The Keys—although even rusty, purple, or cloudy, fresh running water is an everyday miracle.

I flip the switch and a light comes on.  The ceiling fan stirs the warm air in the living room.

Like the Wizard of Oz, I have no clue how any of it works and yet, thanks to the collective WE, (not to mention the Romans and Thomas Edison) I get to take these services for granted.

I am grateful that I occupy such a comfortable body.  Although it is a 1951 model, and I sometimes wish I could roll back the odometer, everything still works(except for hands rendered stupid by constant typing).  So thank you arms, legs, eyeballs, toes and all you other moving parts.  Good work you guys!

Thank you brain for being so disorganized.  You keep my body in constant motion, backtracking to finish previously started tasks, burning calories. Yesterday I wore a pedometer and discovered that you sent me on fragmented errands that added up to 6 miles–at least three of which accrued hunting for my eyeglasses.  Thanks as well for your inability to multi–task thereby protecting me from being overwhelmed (taken one thing at a time life looks doable).

Thank you voice, for being there when I open my mouth to sing.  I know you may not always be able to cooperate, relying as you do on a pair of vibrating membranes (original 1951 equipment).  But perhaps the fact you may someday be reduced to plain-old talking only makes me hold you dearer.  And so, for however long my singing voice lasts, thank you Craig Reeder for giving me the chance to sing.

Mom, thanks for teaching me your sympathetic tell–me–your-story facial expression. Without it I would know far fewer of the secret desires and stories of the human heart. And Lord knows how I would make a living.

Trees, I thank you for inventing shade, and for casting a net of bird song over my neighborhood—and for demonstrating that moving fast is probably overrated.  You get my vote as the crown of creation.

Seeds, kudos to you for being as committed to producing vegetables as I am.

Thank you family.  You are the envelope that protects me from an often indifferent world.  Whether you approve or disapprove of what I am up to, you never fail to notice me, reassuring me that I exist.

I don’t know who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop or who put the ram in the rama lama ding-dong, but I’d like to thank that man. Some songs have a way of saying, you’re making this life-thing too complicated, taking it too seriously. Relax. Everything’s swell!

Josie on the companionway ladder of The Ever So Discreet (we lived aboard for six years).

Thanks to my husband Ray for the interesting journey we are sharing. Together we have always wandered off the main path, traveling much of the time with empty pockets.  But money has been less necessary because of our combined talents: mine, which is to pinch every penny, and yours, which is an uncanny ability to build, design, and repair darned near anything.  Stuff other people buy with money you provide with the ingenuity of your mind and hands.

Thank you childhood memories for being good and safe. No matter what happens I have you in the bank.

Thank you optimism.  Because of you I float high in the water so I struggle less paddling to where I want to go.  The couple of times when circumstance has swamped you I marveled at the bravery of people who deal with the negative as their normal state of mind.  So thank you glass for always being at least half full.

Thank you children.  Without you the world would be drab. When my parents bought a condo in a retirement community, for my mother, a novelist, the setting appeared to be a message written in bold type: It’s over. We will warehouse you here until death takes you conveniently away.  It was the absence of children in her new neighborhood that gave the message its power.

I am grateful that I live surrounded by children, and count many of you as good friends, especially the one I most often see only virtually on Skype, my grandson, Booba.

My gratitude list runs quietly in the back of my mind all the time. The things I’ve written down are just the ones that floated to the top of my Magic 8 Ball brain when I gave it a shake.

My list goes on and on and on.

I could easily add: shoes that fit, the love of a good dog, a refrigerator that makes ice cubes…but this is enough for now.

Those of you who comment on my blog always give me much to think about.  What makes you grateful?

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§ 13 Responses to The gratitude list.

  • craig reeder says:

    I am 61 years old, biologically superfluous, and have highly dubious remaining value to society. but i have no bucket list. i have a wonderful wife and family, and am just grateful for each and every day that comes my way. and for each and every one of these blogs that hits my in-box.


  • Richard Dempsey says:

    Last evening Ellen and I talked about driving, her driving, and whether she should surrender her license. It was a struggle. But, she agreed. I felt badly about pressuring her and slept restlessly. This morning, she came over and gave me a kiss and a thank-you for taking away that burden. It seems that she had grown more and more anxious about it, and now that the decision was made she was relieved. She laughed, and then I felt relief. A big part of life lies in being able to accept what has to be accepted, and moving on.


    • There are so many things that can’t be changed no matter what our desires. All we control is our attitude toward what cannot be changed. Acceptance is the least painful response, and shared acceptance brings us closer together, strengthens us. In the lean times we take care of each other.


  • Tgumster says:

    As my life grows increasingly virtual, I pursue its virtue. “I won’t let you fall as low as I’ve been” is the haunting opening of “Bubble,” a song on King Creosote’s new album, “Diamond Mine.” Yes, album, although it’s available on CD, too.

    “Diamond Mine” opens with actual conversation in a Scottish cafe; what follows is scene after scene of village life. Lately, I spend many a morning–and sometimes the whole day–there.
    I go because I can, because I’ve accepted the price.

    Life is only as dim as imagination and for that, I’m grateful.


    • Just this morning, picking blueberries in Wakulla County I found myself in New Jersey in the flat, hot summer landscape in which I spent my spacious out-of-school seasons. It was neither beautiful nor comfortable there, but I felt so at home in that remembered place. I wonder how much of our time is spent in places remembered and imagined. I know that I vacate my body many times a day to wander elsewhere.

      I heard a story once about a prisoner who, in his mind owned a farm. Although his body was incarcerated in his imagination he spent his days working the land. He had found the one door out that could not be locked.


  • carolyn says:

    The magical electricity and water that just come out of the wall reminded me of a time when I lived with friends in a tiny house in the AZ desert that did have electricity (one lightbulb plus a hotplate) but no water, so we used to drive to the gas station 5 miles away and fill up an assortment of 5 gallon containers each morning…. never had to think about where the water came from before that, it was just there!
    Later living in the Dominican Republic, where the embassy delivered drinking(and cooking)water twice a week, again thinking of all the people who had to drink the local water. Our cistern filled from city pipes (when the water was running) and local water was deemed only adequate for washing and gardens, not even for cooking spaghetti . . .


    • I lived for several months in a house lit by candles and a Coleman lantern. It was never convenient, but very peaceful.

      Aboard the boat, where water came through a garden hose to fill our tank, and electricity through a snaking extension cord, water and power could never be taken for granted. There is nothing as still and hot as a wooden cruiser sitting in the sun at the dock without even a fan blowing.


  • Sue Cronkite says:

    Hooray for all my working parts too. And, right now, especially for the miraclke of air conditioning.
    I’m gonna come up there and see you dance and sing, too. One of these days.


  • Yes, to all of the above.


  • Sheila Merlau says:

    So much has been mentioned that I have not considered for my “Blessings” list before, that tonight I shall have to ponder all of the new, essential items you have added.

    I am thankful that I had such a wonderful relationship with my father that I still cannot speak of him very much without tears, and he’s been gone 41 years this month. Almost double my lifetime, but he was an engineer and a teacher and he taught me so much in the time we had together. He gave me my strength by accepting me unconditionally for 25 years. I have often had to console myself that I wouldn’t hurt so much if I hadn’t loved him so much and that makes me very fortunate.

    Two other very wise men came into my life as he left, and they were mentors for many years as I matured and became a professional. Not everyone has employers who are friends who invest in you.–and actually they invested in my husband, too, just as Daddy had so we were able to grow together. We were so young and far away from family and they were just always there for us. Business skills, people skills, meeting people in Leon County. One has just died and the other remembers only the early days, but how blessed we were to have such guidance.

    Life hasn’,t turned out as I envisioned when I took my home economics course and planned homes and meals and children, but it’s a pretty good life. My three sons are independent thinkers with great work ethics. They’re compassionate, creative, and don’t always do what their mother wants, but that’s okay, because she’s not always right either.

    I don’t have the pension or gold watch or name on a school, but I am thankful for the part I played in helping young parents learn what quality child care looks like and then providing it for their children. When we meet in the grocery store, the children have no idea who I am, but I will never forget how unsure their parents were when they were babies or how frustrated they were as 4 year olds when they spent extra time with me working out issues of compromise. There are 100’s of families in my memory, even if they don’t remember me like they remember elementary or high school teachers. It was my passion, and so many times, I knew that I would be doing it for free if I could afford to.

    What a blessing to love something like your work! I didn’t like being away from my children at certain times, but it was minimal.

    And then the Lord said, “GO HOME< SHEILA"—and since I didn't listen real well he gave me my very own jerk to make life so miserable that I had to be pushed out of my last job, Unbeknownst to me, waiting at home was a very needy little second grader who needed help after school instead of going to a paid program. Who better to do that than her Grammy? A few sessions were held under the dining room table, but by the end of the year she was diagnosed,out from under the table, and headed in the right direction. What a blessing for me! And then the next year her cousins, 6 & 11, joined her. Eight years later my last grandchild comes only 2 days a week, but my heart is so full of stories and pictures and happy memories—what in the world was I doing at work when I had 6 beautiful grandchildren who needed some form of after school care?

    All of the surgeries (6) and pain (persistent) are nothing when I count these gifts that God has poured on me. Whenever I've thought "We can't make it financially any longer.", a new blessing arrives. I do question it sometimes, but I just have to remember the past, and know that my future's taken care of too.

    Perhaps someday I will be able to write this as lyrically as you, Adrian, but then again, probably not. But this is the first time I've been inspired to tell my story like this, so please forgive me for taking over your blog tonight. Obviously you inspired me. You always do, but usually I'm too tired to respond. Perhaps that's not a bad thing, but I should start a journal for myself!!
    Thank you for caring for all of us.


    • Sheila, this blog is a great place for outpouring, so thanks for adding your story to mine.

      It sounds as if we both had incredibly close relationships with our dads. But I was luckier than you. My father lived to be 82 and resided for the last years of his life in a house across the street from mine. I still miss him, big-time.

      We too have had the experience of always managing to get by, despite some very tight times. It turns out that not much money is required to live a full, rich life.

      Thanks for taking the time to share your take on the things that make life worthwhile.


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