Gratitude: a tribute

Well I guess I’m keeping up with my trend of writing one post every couple of months. It’s kinda pathetic I know, but it is what it is.
On Thanksgiving weekend I found myself at a loss for words. Not in every area of my life, those of you who know me best would know I’m never short of having an opinion on something or other, but just in the area of being able to name what I’m thankful for.
Despite its many pitfalls, I’m a big fan of Facebook. But on that weekend, as I watched one status update after another outline what people were thankful for, I was handcuffed as to what to write. Not at all because I didn’t have things to be thankful for, but mainly because I couldn’t think of what was most important to me to write in just a few sentences of a status update.

So I was silent. Slightly paralyzed.

But over these past weeks I haven’t been able to forget my dilemma.
What am I thankful for?
– I’m thankful for my family. My beautiful wife. My inspirational daughter. My 2 very loving sisters. My parents who I love and love me back and are still alive and well. My brother who I’ll have a chance to spend some time with in a few weeks in Alberta. My 5 nephews; one of which is named after me. The list goes on.
– I’m thankful for my job. It’s awesome. It’s new and exciting. It’s giving me a chance to expand my sphere of influence and develop some new skills. It’s also bringing me closer to the streets than I’ve been in years as a result of being freed of the many administrative tasks I once had and allowing me to spend far more time with folks on, or close to, the streets.
– I have close friends. I have a home. A car. Toys. A church that I love. Music. Books. A fireplace. A TV and computer. A shelf of curry spices and tea making supplies. The list goes on. I’m so thankful.
Then another part of my dilemma was resisting the urge to post on Facebook the things that I’m thankful not to have to deal with.
– I’m thankful that I’m not homeless living in a shelter or on the street.
– I’m thankful my mother didn’t feel the need to abandon me when I was a baby and leave me to be raised by the system.
– I’m thankful to never have been raped in prison.
– I’m thankful that I wasn’t faced with the decision of having to sell myself on the streets for survival or die.
– I’m thankful that I don’t live in a mud hut and have to struggle to find clean water and worry about where to find my next meal, whether or not men with guns will come and take me from my home and make me fight in their wars…
I’m truly thankful. But I didn’t post that stuff ‘cuz it mighta sounded kind of preachy.

So I remained silent. Still paralyzed.

Then last week in church, a week after thanksgiving weekend, the theme was yet again thankfulness. There was no sermon and instead there were a series of people speaking on gratitude in the midst of struggle. It was powerful. But the story that stood out was a video of my mother-in-law, Elaine Grant, who has lived in hospital for almost a decade due to complications from a surgery she had. She can’t eat. She’s bound to either a bed or a wheelchair. And she’s dependent on caregivers for her daily survival. But she spoke into that camera, with the most genuine smile that brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it, about how truly thankful she is to God, for God, and for her family and friends. She’s a true inspiration and model of grace, love, and gratitude.
I’m thankful she’s in my life. She helps me get past my semi-regular self pity regarding my own health issues. Her life points me back to the reality of the many things I do have to be thankful for.
She embodies gratitude.
So this post is my tribute to my mother-in-law Elaine.
i love you mom.
And I’m so thankful for you.

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