Friday, November 23, 2007


I’m a glass half full kind of girl, cultivating an attitude of thankfulness all year long, each and every day. Some days this practice is harder than others, but mostly I am thankful for all the blessings of my life, including the habit of thankfulness, which keeps the edge of everyday life from cutting so sharply.

I’m thankful for my parents, who taught me to say please and thank you and yes ma’am and no sir, but thank you for thinking of me. I’m thankful for reasonably good health and for the doctors and medications that support that state of life.

And as I discussed with my mother on the phone yesterday, we are both thankful for the crowd of people who help take care of us. Carpenters and painters, snow plowmen (for me) and dock haulers (for her), grass cutters and car repairmen, their mundane contributions are deeply appreciated. Taken together, these small tasks make a great gift—our capacity to live alone, as we choose to do. Imagine, we joked, if we had to sleep with some old man just to get our chores done.

Yesterday I had dinner with part of my support system, a couple who have become dear friends, not least because my German Shepherd puppy Cassie started her life in their home. We ate turkey, one they had grown, and fussed over Cassie’s mother, her sister Nellie—same mother, same father, but a year and a half younger, and Miss Abby, the newly-self-appointed leader of the pack. My Cassie-scented sweater was thoroughly sniffed on the way in, then sniffed again when I returned home covered in the scent of German Shepherds who were not Cassie.

There were human friends, too, and the quintessential couple of Thanksgiving strangers. Last minute invitations as they were dug out of their driveway, they came into a warm and hospitable room, and chilled it. There was history, you see. Nobody elaborated on the back story, but we could not entirely overlook past bills unpaid for services rendered and past ungrateful behavior.

In my past life, I spent many hours helping the man set up his dream business. It’s okay, I was paid for my work, and even accepted that many people feel it is their right to treat public servants badly. Still it rankled when he disappeared without a word one day, neither to me nor to the small business counselor who had also spent days on his dream. He tried to explain yesterday—he was busy. One can only imagine how she justified not paying her vet bill to a room full of the veterinarian’s staff. Justified in her mind, that is, not a word was spoken.

They left early, and the room warmed up again. There were enough German Shepherds for us each to have one to mess with. We didn’t give the ungrateful pair another thought, except to be thankful that we don’t need to know them.

We all have behavior that we aren’t proud of, and in a small town people know about it. Our history is written in invisible ink on the backs of our parkas, and although people may continue to extend courtesy, warmth is another thing altogether.

1 comment:

Mouse said...

Here in Brittany people are kindness personified but, let there be an insult whether perceived or real, then the resulting feud will be carefully nurtured and handed down, even unto the sixth generation.
Some days I feel as if I am walking on egg shells although the people of the commune tend to treat me as a village idiot and make allowances for me accordingly!
Respect, courtesy and an open-heart are all-important in community