In the age of being #blessed, some might think our generation has no problem giving thanks. But I am actually of the opinion it’s something we could all stand to work on.
Over Labor Day, I flew home to spend the weekend with my parents who had just become empty nesters. I figured it would be nice for them to have someone to take care of, and after becoming a puppy-mom in early July I was feeling extremely run down and more than happy to be on the receiving end of that care and attention (to all you real moms out there – you are major). It’s not that I’m complaining: having a puppy is wonderful and amazing and everything you thought it would be – it’s just that the majority of the time you feel like a zombie that’s been woken from the dead.
I had planned to spend the next morning catching up on several months worth of sleep, but that quickly changed when my mom told me she had made plans for us to have breakfast with my grandmother. A year or two ago I would have pushed back. I need sleep mom!! You don’t understaaaand. To be honest, I may not have seen my grandmother at all during this short of a break. But now things are different. My grandma lives in a nursing home. Every time I see her, her memory is less and less (due to brain damage sustained during several mini strokes) and so time with her is golden.
But it always was. My Mimi is patient, kind and soulful. Even in her current state, she finds ways to laugh at herself and her terrible memory. “Just yesterday I went to the botanical gardens and it was so lovely,” she tells us. “Oh you did? With who?” my mom asks. My grandma can’t remember.
“Was It Joe?” My mom asks. Three minutes and fifteen guesses later, my mom finally hits the nail on the head.
“Yes! That’s it!” my grandmother squeals with joy. I can tell having put this small puzzle together has made both my mom and grandma really happy, so I’m happy.
I tell my Mimmers that this is just “Greaaaat” in this funny accent we always do together, which started with my dad. She laughs and repeats “It’s greaaaaat.” I then brought up some happy memories we had shared together, like the time she took my cousin and I on a wild trip to Costa Rica (and by wild, I mean my at-the-time seventy year-old grandma had zip-lined through the jungle). I asked her if she remembered meeting my boyfriend that one night in New York, the night it was pouring rain. “Oh yes. He’s greaaaaat.” During our breakfast, time seemed to stand still. I didn’t look at my phone once. I only used it at the very end to ask my mom to take a picture. I wanted to remember happy moments like these when it gets worse.
On the ride home I was pretty quiet. I was kicking myself for all the times I didn’t go to see her. That was so fun. That was so special. What in the world have I been doing that is so important I can’t make time for that? And then there was another thing eating away at me – something I couldn’t go back and fix. Two years ago, I lost my grandpa really suddenly and never got the chance to say goodbye. I should have called him more, too. I hope he knew how much I loved him.
I guess it’s pretty normal to not know what you have until it’s gone – or in this case, slipping away slowly. Later that day, I was compelled write a list of all the things I had to be thankful for. Topping the list were all of the amazing people in my life. A little further down were accomplishments, talents, abilities, possessions and so on. When I was finished and looking over my list, I realized that I had subconsciously made my list in order or importance. Without even trying, I had sorted through all of my priorities and gained this kind of outside perspective.
Since writing this list, I have found it a bit easier to navigate every day. I worry less, am able to focus on what’s in front of me, and have found myself to be noticeably more loving, patient and kind. As an added bonus, all of the things I used to be really stressed about have started to seem more manageable.
The way I see it: there may be things I want, but I have what – and who – I need. And for now, I have decided that’s more than enough.