We had our Thanksgiving lunch at the Senior Center today, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to being thankful. Gratitude has been a popular subject on the Internet lately, from the hoopla over Tim Tebow’s public prayers of thanks for his God-given talents to Facebook challenges to post a status of gratitude each day in November. I haven’t participated much because I’m not a current controversy kind of writer and because I have enough trouble keeping up with my existing writing commitments to think of a creative way to say “Thank You” every day. But since I’m always looking for new blog material, I started thinking about a post on gratitude. It didn’t take long to decide the scope of that task was beyond me. All I could think of was the third verse of Frederick M. Lehman’s hymn, “The Love of God:”
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
Like I said, the task was above my pay grade. I thought maybe I could pare it down to a top ten list, but that seemed a little like choosing which relative you love the most or making just the right choice out of the box of chocolates. Then I thought about my Gratitude Journal. Last year when I was going through my caregiving crisis, my attitude about everything in my life really sucked. I had heard people talk about keeping a list of things for which they were thankful and how much it helped them, so I gave it a try.
I bought a small spiral notebook and made a commitment to make three entries a day. It was easy at first because I could write down the big things like Jesus, my husband, our nice home. But as time went on and I tried not to repeat myself, it became harder. As our lives became more stressful, some days all I could write was Thank You that this day is over. But in the long run, it helped. Those few moments each day of focusing on the positives in my life helped me face the negatives with a better attitude.
Today I found that little notebook and read through some of the entries. I’ve chosen a few to share with you. They begin in September of last year and go through December when Mom and Dad moved into assisted living in Arkansas. I’ll leave it mostly to your imagination as to what was going on.
…for dedicated doctors who continue to practice in spite of all the bureaucracy.
…for helping me through the tough times with Mom and Dad.
…for a wonderful six-hour break with David.
…for the man at the medical supply who fixed Dad’s walker for $18.
…for Brenda. (Brenda was a caregiver who came in once a week for a few hours.)
…that my blood pressure is finally down.
…that Dad took a bath without incident and even shaved!
…for Liquid Plum-R. (Dad frequently stopped up the toilet.)
…for a relatively smooth trip to the lab and to breakfast. (For a full account of this adventure, read my Facebook post of 11/03/2010 titled “Breakfast Adventures.”)
…that even with the time change and getting refreshments we made it to church on time.
…for the porch swing and the lanai.
…for easy house cleaning products.
…that Mom didn’t choke on her food at dinner.
…for wisdom even though I don’t always use it wisely.
…that we can still leave Mom and Dad alone from time to time.
…for unstopping the toilet.
…for David to lean on in this stressful time.
…that there is space available for Mom and Dad.
…that Sean can help with the move.
…for the years I’ve had to take care of Mom and Dad
…that it’s Jim’s turn.
Thank you, God. Amen.