Giving thanks

Sometimes I'm thankful for the smallest things.“Life is just a collection of memories. And memories are like starlight: they go on forever.”

Country music singer C.W. McCall said that several years ago in a ballad titled “Aurora Borealis.”

I met him in 1996 while wandering in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. He and me and the friend who had talked me into the trip leaned for nearly an hour against McCall’s aging Jeep Wagoneer outside the Papillon hamburger and donut shop, ice cream melting in the back seat, his wife R.J. at home wondering what was keeping her husband. I’m thankful for the friendship of the guy who talked me into going.

I remember growing up beside and, as often as possible, in, a lake in Maine, listening to Chuck Berry on a windup Victrola and, later, Cousin Brucie on a transistor radio. There weren’t nearly as many people living on the lake then as now, and fishing was pretty fun for a boy in a rowboat.

I remember a two-room schoolhouse, and teachers who cared whether and what I learned. We complain a lot about how things have changed and school isn’t what we remember, but teachers still do the work because they still care whether and what children learn. It is a job for which they are paid much less than they earn.

I remember a wife of 30 years, with whom I had the privilege of helping raise two babies into pretty swell adults. It wasn’t always smooth going, and sometimes we joked that at least one of them might not live to see his next birthday. Sometimes, we wondered if we would live that long. He did, and we did, and there are grandchildren now writing in their own histories.

Nothing is forever and that wife was called away, but one day I had lunch with a new best friend, and got a new granddaughter. We have had a lot of fun the past couple decades. And I have spent the past 20 years wandering around the South Mountains of south central Pennsylvania, wading in and canoeing on creeks, and counting bugs and helping folks keep the water clean.

President Trump and his Covid task force head are correct in one respect, though they could be a little more empathetic in their delivery. Many people are on the high risk list because this may well be their last Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or …

I’m thankful for the drug companies working on vaccines to, we hope soon, prevent Covid-19. I wish they did not appear so greedy at pricing something they know we will pay for but, one way or other, pay for it we will.

I appreciate beyond words the entire medical staff in our county, from the ambulance crews to the doctors and nurses and the lowest-paid cleaner-uppers and food delivery persons who together live and work in an environment unavoidably hazardous to themselves and, when they go home, their families. (I’m not as pleased with those maskless folks who declare their right to kill, or at least endanger, their neighbors.)

I feel great sadness for those the virus will keep separated, leaving only memories at the dinner table. I pray they find only happy memories of what they had, not sad ones at what they missed, but we arere all real people, and though we may find it easy to tell each other the former, the latter is what many of us have lived through this week.

I count myself lucky for the people I’ve met while wandering around the county. I have learned much from them, and enjoyed their company immensely.

For all, and to all, I wish a Happy Thanksgiving.

I hope you enjoyed the ride. You’ve come this far; please comment and share with your friends.

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