For years I have noted that many writers and columnists tend to expound on how “thankful” they are the week of Thanksgiving. Granted, this is why we celebrate this special holiday, but I have always thought it a little cheeky for everyone at the same time to write about their blessings and good fortune. Alas, due to some recent surgery, I too have come to the conclusion that mentioning a few reasons to be thankful this time of year may not really be out of place. I’ll explain.
Since the second grade, I have worn glasses. It is quite comical, at least now, to tell the story of how I realized I needed help in the optical department. A particular frosty morning in October found dad and me waiting on bushy-tails to begin their morning ritual of cutting hickory nuts from the tree we were guarding. As dawn made her first little crack, the limbs came alive as our quarry searched out the clusters of fruit at the tips of the branches. Ever so slowly enough sunlight penetrated the canopy of the forest to allow the opportunity to release a load of number sixes from the shotgun I was holding. I distinctly remember my dad saying, in words that were barely audible, “shoot that fox squirrel.” Aiming as best I could, I pulled the trigger of my now ancient Harrington and Richardson .410. The squirrel did not fall, nor did it realize there was at least some eminent danger until I broke the action open and started fumbling for another shell. My dad stared at me in disbelief and stated in words that really aren’t suitable for print so I will paraphrase. Not only did I miss the squirrel, I didn’t even shoot in the right tree. So the first thing Monday morning, I was sitting in Dr. Van Dyke Hagaman’s office with my dad. Here’s the rest of the story.
I never will forget the look on my dad’s face when Dr. Hagaman said to him, “how long has this boy been like this?” So then and there the saga of my eyes began. To this day the story continues. From glasses to contacts and now to cataracts and floaters the birthdays have taken their toll. Thankfully through science and technology, along with skilled ophthalmologists, I have options that will help ensure that I will be able to see in full splendor glorious sunrises and sunsets to come. Admittedly, I’m not completely there yet and this is where I have to caution myself and work diligently not to have a self-pity party. Trust me, as frustrated as I am at times with my vision, I realize it could always be worse. So this is where I do my best to count my blessings and be thankful for what I have for I know many are less fortunate when it comes to health.
Though I may have some compromise in my vision, I have friends that can’t see at all. There will be those that walk out of a physician’s office today with news of cancer that will be life changing for them. I take for granted the luxury of walking across a cotton field or lugging through a delta gumbo with a sack of decoys on my back. I have friends that can’t walk at all and some don’t even have legs. When a turkey gobbles at sunrise, I seldom wonder what it would be like to have no hearing at all. Again, I am spoiled in the fact that many don’t have the opportunity to absorb the sounds of spring. These are just a few of the examples that come to mind when I become frustrated that my crosshairs aren’t as clear as I would like or that I can’t quite pin-point the direction the raspy gobble came from.
Can you relate to any of these things I have mentioned? Do you complain, as I often do, that your day is not going like you wish? Is your car not new enough or shiny enough compared to your neighbors? Is there not enough money in your checkbook to purchase the “toy” that you have been wanting? Maybe Thanksgiving can be used for not only what we do have but perhaps what we don’t have as well. Think about this for a minute. I don’t have cancer. I don’t have an eye disease. I don’t have a sick loved one. I’m sure you see where I’m heading by now.
Thanksgiving is one of my most cherished holidays. This Thanksgiving I am going to do my best to extend the holiday throughout the year and not just the end of November. Yes, it is still a struggle to be “chipper” every day of your life but when you think of problems that others may have or those that you will perhaps have tomorrow, maybe it will be just a little easier to keep a smile on your face and pass it on to others. If you meet me on the street opening and closing one eye, I’m not winking at you, I’m just trying to see which eye works and which one needs a little more help. If you see me frustrated, remind me of my own words and I’m sure you will make me chuckle. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and do your best to be thankful and happy every day. You’ll be glad you did’
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.