As you and yours take the time to sit together on Thursday it would be easy to concentrate on the negatives we’ve seen in our lives during 2020. Believe me my heart goes out to all those that have lost loved ones during the pandemic. That sadness weighs heavily on my mind, as I know it does yours.
My heart also goes out to all my friends and acquaintances who are business owners that have seen their life’s work seriously endangered by the impact of this invisible foe, which threatens all they have worked for during their lifetime. My thoughts also go out to all those employees who work within those businesses who have been laid off or seen their livelihoods seriously affected by this unprecedented attack on innocent lives.
I also have to think about the loss seen by my own extended family. Early on this year we saw the loss of Alice Wheeler in Medfield, Massachusetts. One of the kindest and loving women I’ve ever known. She would succumb from her long difficult battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease, better known as ALS. She brought great joy to all that knew her, including her sister Janet, who is so special to me. I am thankful for her coming into my life and making me smile and including me in their family.
My wonderful friend Wayne Purvis who would also leave us too soon, but not before making his mark in this world and on our little island. He never stopped caring for others or his family. He taught me to smile under the worst of circumstances, even though he may have been tortured by the disease that would eventually take his life. Once again, I am thankful for his presence in my life and that of everyone he had touched during his journey.
In July, my sister and I said a sad goodbye to my younger brother Bill, who had fallen a victim to Pancreatic Cancer over a six-month period. Due to the lockdown because of COVID-19 we were not able to sit with him while at the hospital in New Hampshire to encourage him during his worst of days. I was relegated to only seeing him through videos over the internet.
By the time we were able to be with him, the ravages of the disease and his courageous fight against it had taken away the smile of the young man who was one the bravest individuals I knew. He would live only two days after our arrival in the home we all grew up in before he would pass from us, with his wife Ellen, my sister Kathy and myself at his side.
I have struggled to put the memories of that day out of my mind and instead concentrated on the great happiness he would bring to all that knew him. He certainly was a shining star to his wife Ellen, his daughter Gina, his little grandson Yeshua, my sister Kathy and myself. The memories of playing ball across the street in the open field, his love of the Red Sox, the daily Facebook pics he would send to remind me of family, all bring great joy to me and fill the void I felt due to his passing all too young.
If that wasn’t enough, the phone call that came from Indiana when Janet told me that our little Miniature Schnauzer Maddie had fallen seriously ill was another terrible day in 2020. The next day she would have to be put down to spare her any further pain and agony. We all joined together via a video conference which allowed me to say goodbye to our little girl with uncontrollable emotions flowing.
No one was braver than Janet, as she cradled that special member of our family as she was allowed to pass peacefully. I don’t know how she did it, for I was falling to pieces. Gone would be the days she would wait for me at the door or want to go out and play frisbee, or just lay out on the lounge chair like the little Princess she was. Those will be the great memories I will always carry with me and help me be thankful for that day of sadness.
This has been a rough year for so many, but in the darkness of loss I am focused on those things I can give thanks for. On this Thursday I will give thanks for all those that have joined me on the journey of life so far. For the smiles they’ve brought to me and the laughter they’ve brought to the rooms and times we’ve shared.
I am thankful for those I’ll share the table with today and all of you who I’ve come to know over these 30 years.
I’m thankful for those community leaders and volunteers who would come together today to package meals for those that might not be so fortunate as many of us. Their efforts, and those of many during the year helped to make that successful event a reality just a week before Thanksgiving.
As I look across Collier Bay today I am thankful for the beauty of this island we all share together and that fact that God has graced me with the opportunity to share it with so many of you.