I know that some people will say that this is a day late and a dollar short since yesterday was Thanksgiving Day. However, I needed the time to really think about what I was thankful for this past year.
Over the past year I have had more tests: MRIs, C-Scans, blood work, LPs than I can count. Some of the results have been clear-cut, I am not vitamin B deficient, I am low on vitamin D. I don’t have syphilis – why they tested for that is weird, or diabetes. I have carpel tunnel, and strange responses in the nerves on the right side. I don’t have a brain tumor, but I do have lesions on the thalamus. So the year was a mix of good, bad and indifferent.
As I nodded in and out yesterday, I suppose the results of that wonderful amino acid, tryptophan, I got to thinking of some of the things that I truly have to be thankful for. So if you will indulge me for a few, here are some of the things that I am thankful for this past year, and some of the reasons.
I’m thankful for the news that a young man I have known since my children were in elementary school has been told that his is now cancer free. This is a bright kid, with a wonderful future and to have been struck with cancer while in his 20’s must have been and is a frightening thought. But the good news is that his last round of tests have shown him in remission, and God willing he will stay that way and have a long and happy life.
I am thankful for the small group of friends that have surrounded me with love, patience and assistance over the past year. There have been too many times to count that I would have just laid in bed and bemoaned my problems had it not been for them. They have cajoled, pestered, bitched, and pushed for me to move forward rather than just give up and say “to hell with it!”
I am thankful for my extended family; cousins and aunts, who, though they may not realize it, have been an encouragement to me to write and persevere. The emails that have flown back and forth over the past year have not only been a God send, but a joy to reconnect with those that I have, whether I realized it at the time or not, truly loved and that loved me in spite of or perhaps due to my imperfections.
I am thankful for the men and women who daily don a uniform, be it one of military camouflage, firefighter turn out gear, or the badge and gun of our law enforcement. They daily put their lives on the line to protect this country and our way of life both abroad and at home. They are truly the first line of defense against the onslaught of those that want to destroy us as a nation or take from us what we have worked so hard to build at home. Many have never shared a holiday with their families, duty calling above the comforts of home and hearth. And many will never see their families again, having paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we may enjoy the lives we live.
I am thankful for the freedoms we have in this country. I know that on this and many other holidays politicians will wax prosaic about how we are the freest nation on earth. But I wonder at times if our politicians truly understand at what price that freedom has come. It comes not only at the cost of lives and treasury, but also at a cost of self-denial and restraint. As I watch the Occupy Wall Street protests and all the other self-indulgent rantings that have permeated the headlines over the past several months I can’t help but wonder if these people truly understand that the country and the system they are opposing is the only system that would tolerate the things they are doing. Yes, there have been, at times, over reactions by the authorities to some of the protesters. But, unlike Deng Xianoping’s response to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, a response that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, these American protesters have been allowed the freedom to speak out and in many cases abuse others, including their own, without having to worry about tanks running over them.
The OWS crowd has been able to shut down portions of major cities without having to worry about the police opening fire on them as has been happening in President Bashar al-Assad’s Syria. The streets of America are not littered with 3,500 dead protestors. Yet these same American protesters wish to collapse the system that protects them and their freedom to speak out. Despite my disdain for what the OWSers stand for, I am thankful that they have the right to speak and protest without having to worry about being slaughtered by a government that only knows how to use an iron fist to control its people.
I am, believe it or not, thankful for the problems that I have developed. I was talking to my children, children? they are adults now, and during the course of conversations I have realized that what once defined me has now changed. And with that change comes the opportunity to redefine who I am as a man and a member of society. Where once I would have thrown my body into the fire and fray of a conflict, I am learning, or rather being forced to learn, that I can use the other gift God has given me, and that is my mind. The two and a half to three pound computer stored in my thick skull is turning into my greatest asset. I once defined who I was by my 6’2″, 250 pound mass. Now I am being forced to define myself more by three pounds of brain matter. I guess what they say is true, size really doesn’t matter, it’s how you use it.
Lastly, and most importantly I am thankful for a God that has been willing to put up with me and tolerate all my foolishness, stubbornness, ego, selfishness, and generally being a pain over the past 50+ years. There have been too many times that I should have drawn my last breath, yet He has saw fit to protect me and keep me alive and going. He’s chastised me, corrected me, affirmed me, strengthened me when I’ve had no strength left, and most importantly, He has loved me when I was my most unlovable.
These are some of the things that I am thankful for this year. I know that there are others, but these stand out the most to me. So, to my friends, family, country, to my country’s defenders here and abroad and to God, THANK YOU!