Gratitude 2014

I wrote a couple of years ago about being grateful, but it’s high time I revisited this destination. It’s imperative for happiness, for perspective.

In the intervening time since that blog post, I’ve lost my mother to Alzheimer’s, my father’s moved into Assisted Living, two of our cats have passed on (Muffin and Frodo), and we’re in the middle of a fight to keep our house (legal battle with the County over Medicaid assistance for Dad).

I painted Mom's nails the day before she died; she always had impeccable nails.

I painted Mom’s nails the day before she died; she always had impeccable nails.

 

 

Frodo, near the end of his illness.

Frodo, near the end of his illness.

 

Muffin

Muffin, my mother’s cat

 

Additionally, I’ve had surgery this year on my foot, keeping me immobile for a long time, then in a walking cast and on a scooter. Health concerns continue, unabated. Financial issues, as with everyone, seem to only worsen.  Justin and I have often thought that 2014 has *not* been our year.

Ouch

Ouch

 

Steve, the Scooter, and Rufus, the Cast

Steve, the Scooter, and Rufus, the Cast

 However, attitude is everything.

While I miss my mother terribly, and Alzheimer’s is the worst disease in the world, as far as I’m concerned (I once heard it described on NPR as a disease in which the victim watches as her own brain is eaten away), she was more than ready to go, and I was fortunate enough to be able to be by her side, holding her hand, as she took her last breath.  She lived a full and happy and interesting life, and left a massive legacy through her teaching.

Dad seems very happy in Assisted Living, and is getting healthier in some ways even as his age is slowly taking away other things.  He’s ninety-one, now, but still enjoying living.

Dad, winning at cards, as usual, at his apartment.

Dad, winning at cards, as usual, at his apartment.

Dad at Thanksgiving, 2014

Dad at Thanksgiving, 2014

 

Dad, Sept. 2014

Dad, Sept. 2014

Dad at Assisted Living at a music concert (his favorite: Stonybrook Band).

Dad at Assisted Living at a music concert (his favorite: Stonybrook Band).

 

Dad this week on Christmas.

Dad this week on Christmas.

We miss Muffin and Frodo immensely, yet we’ve acquired both Pixel and Hershel in the last several months. Part of owning cats is acknowledging that lives are finite, and grief is inevitable.  We do it because the pain is worth it.

Pixel

Pixel

 

Hershel

Hershel

 

Our legal fight is hugely stressful, and we still don’t have final results, yet for the time being we have a roof over our heads and are enjoying our property.  And as Justin and I keep saying, “You, me, and the kitties; that’s all we need.  We can face anything else.” We don’t want to have to, but we can if we need to. Us and the kitties: that’s home.

While the surgery and recovery were problematic, I’m walking and living without the daily excruciating pain that I’d had in my foot for over three years due to arthritis and bone spurs shredding tendons.  Every month, I’m walking easier and easier!

And finances?  Well, hell…that’s just the human condition (unless you’re one of the 1%). We’re both employed. We have a place to live (at least for now, LOL). We have plenty to eat. Everything else is gravy, when you really think about it!

Hershel’s story (written elsewhere) has done a lot to restore my faith in mankind, and to bring back smiles and hope.

Justin and I at a Twins game, 2014

Justin and I at a Twins game, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

My husband is the best person on the planet, in my opinion, and I’m grateful daily to share my life with him. And while we didn’t have snow for Christmas, we did get some the next day…it’s beautiful outside.

 

 

 

Snowblowing.

Snowblowing.

 

Justin, at dinner before an Ike Reilly show in Minneapolis

Justin, at dinner before an Ike Reilly show in Minneapolis

Justin likes coffee.

Justin likes coffee.

 

I love my husband.

I love my husband.

 

Justin with Wednesday Cat.

Justin with Wednesday Cat.

 

Here’s to seeing 2014 out–perhaps none too soon, but maybe I’m giving it a bad rap–and ushering a bright, beautiful, bountiful 2015 in.  

May we all have plenty to be grateful for in the coming year.

 

Outside our front door just now.

Outside our front door just now.

 

 

 

Grateful

(Crossposted from my School Blog, 11-20-12)

I love Thanksgiving. Not because of the old stories about pilgrims and Natives sitting down together, although that’s a nice story, but because I love that we set aside a day of the year to really take stock of what we have, how lucky we are, and how some of our (my?!?) complaining is, well, overdone. I think it’s a wonderful day to notice all the good things that surround us, and to tell the people in our lives how grateful we are.

First and foremost, I’m grateful for my husband. He’s also my best friend, the one person I want to share everything with, the person who always manages to make me laugh, the guy who takes care of me, my partner in all things, and the person I trust most in the world. I cannot even imagine my life without him, and I hope I never have to find out. Over fourteen years together, and it only gets better.

Wedding!

I’m grateful that despite their health problems, both my parents are still alive, at age 88 and 89. I’ve been blessed to have been adopted and raised by such loving people, such generous and demanding and wonderful people. I was adopted at age two-and-a half, from foster care, and again, I hit the jackpot.

Just adopted

I’m grateful for extended family…much of which might not be traditional. I’m thankful for Veronica, my stepdaughter from my first marriage, who’s the most awesome nearly-24-year-old I know. She’s going to run the world one day, starting with California.

Veronica

My family also includes my cats, present and past. I’m grateful for Ella, Frodo, Litha, Wednesday, and Muffin, and all the cuddles, scratches, surprise dead mice, and purrs they provide me.

I’m thoroughly thankful for my job, which I love. Teaching is the hardest thing I’ve ever done–and continues to be–but also the best thing I’ve ever done. It was a career change in my 30s that brought me here, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I may tear my hair out at times, I may cry over things I cannot change, I may hate the long hours and the grading, but how lucky am I that I get paid to discuss literature? To laugh every day at the wonderful things kids say, and do? To see the world, daily, through young people’s eyes? To be part of learning, and books, and writing, and reading, and poetry, and all the things I love, for a living? Wow. I’m so very lucky. And lucky to be able to teach in an interesting place with great diversity, lots of personality, and some of the best people I’ve ever met!

While I have a host of health problems that make daily life…difficult, let’s say, I have to remember that it could always be worse. I’m alive. I’m mobile. I have good doctors, and the ability to see them and get the medications I need. As a former doctor said, I must have nine lives…and I intend to live all of them, fully. I’m thankful to be here and as healthy as I am, in spite of it all.

I’m grateful for all the good friends I have, and have had, in my life. What a wide variety of characters they are: creative, idiosyncratic, imaginative, humorous, intense, driven, aggravating, interesting, and provocative. I love this motley crew!

I’m grateful to have a nice place to live, in a nice town, with more than enough. Compared to most of the world, I live like Royalty. I’m grateful to have moved to a part of the world that agrees with me, and I’m grateful for my hundreds of trees, my backyard wildlife, and a place to call “home.”

I’m a terrifically lucky person, and I think I need more than one day a year to stand up and say “Thank you!” to all of this!