Much about the month of Thanksgiving has seemed difficult for me. It seems as if ever since we changed back from daylight saving time, I've been more tired, and day-to-day life has been a struggle. Does winter get harder as we age? That's seeming to be the case, but maybe (I hope) I'm just going through a phase.
Even as much about November has seemed difficult, and I'm still more tired than I think I should be, I cannot contain the joy and gratitude I do feel. It's readily expressed in smiles and excited conversation when people at work or church or elsewhere ask me how my Dad is doing after his lung surgery. I can go on and on talking about those precious moments that make my heart sing and my soul rejoice. Writing about them isn't as easy. (And the pictures I took didn't adequately capture the moments, either.) But I want to write about them, to help me never forget.
Highlights, as simply as possible:
-- Knowing Daddy was back on the farm Nov. 24, the afternoon before Thanksgiving. How I wish I could have been there to see him. But it was enough just to know. Daddy was born on that farm and has lived there most of his life. I like that Mom picked him up at the rehab hospital and drove him home and didn't call to tell any of the kids until they were there. But from what she said, after that, the house had a steady stream of family members until Sunday afternoon.
-- Hearing Daddy tell the stories of my only brother and my youngest of four sisters working together to rearrange furniture to make things a little more convenient for Mom and Dad. Mike and Amy also did projects around the farm and went to a ballgame together. To hear Daddy tell it, neither one was in charge; they just worked as a team. I don't know how often they've done that through their 40- and 50-plus years. Daddy knows they got a lot done, but he seemed to think that even if the results hadn't been great, just watching them work was worth something.
-- Daddy saying grace for the roast dinner Mom fixed for Gene and me and Daddy on Saturday. I wondered if we'd say grace and who might be asked to do it. There was no question; Daddy just did it, humbly and from the heart.
-- Daddy's determination that he would go to church Sunday. The weather seemed cold and windy, and his immune system is probably still not up to par and he would need to take the portable oxygen container and he hadn't had a bath since Wednesday morning, but none of that seemed to deter his desire. I was grateful for that desire, and I prayed he would be able to follow through. But I was prepared for it not to work out. I told him that if he tried but ended up getting too tired or it was too much trouble, he could wait until next week. But when I got to church in Gainesville Sunday morning, Mom drove up with Amy and Daddy right behind me. Again, I cannot express how much that meant to me. The people of that church are like extended family to me, and to see how joyful people of all ages seemed to see Charles back -- again, it just makes me smile. (There's so much more that I want to write here, but again, I'm trying to keep it simple.)
-- And then there's the gratitude for Mom and the lessons I learn from her. This is probably the hardest to put into words, so I won't get it done tonight. I just know that I learn so many valuable lessons of faith and action and support and love and endurance and so much more from her. She's definitely the glue that holds our family together. She is an amazing woman. (I had a bad experience at the dentist today, and one of my thoughts was that my Mom certainly did not raise me to be such a whiny, easily frustrated person! I'm still learning!)
One of my recurring awarenesses in November and probably even before we learned of the possibility Daddy might have cancer in mid-August is that I don't understand why God keeps being so good to me and my family and why, even when it looks like things could get bad, we keep receiving blessings. I know God is that good, but I also know that the reality of life is that His goodness often will be manifest in times of pain and suffering and grief and sorrow, not just during the celebrations and healing and recovery. I do know that, as a family, we have managed to stay focused on the blessings even in what mostly seem like relatively minor or routine sufferings in the scheme of life (and yes, there have been some major ones, and we've kept a faithful focus in those, too). I pray that I will never fail to praise God for His blessings -- including the blessing of seeing His goodness when the good isn't obvious. But when the good is obvious, I just want to shout and sing and praise God.
And so it is as the month of Thanksgiving draws to a chose. Thank you, God!