30 Days of Thanks Day 11: Veterans

Every year for November 11th, I have thanked veterans. I am appreciative of their sacrifice not just today, but every day. I am able to live independently because there have been men and women willing to serve my country in the armed forces.

Last year, I wrote about my favorite veteran, my father. In case you missed it the first time, you can find it here. I don’t have anything to add other than to say how much I miss Dad. I miss his laugh, his smile, his hugs, and his stories. It has been almost a year since I last saw him, and eleven months since his death.

Dad had great stories to share about his years in the Army. He spent time in Alaska and described the ship ride through the Pacific in vivid detail. Somewhere there is a photo Dad took of Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower visiting the troops. I like this photo of my Dad better.

Black and white image of a young white man in uniform. He is kneeling in snow, in front of an army building, holding a rifle to his shoulder.

Today I am grateful for Dad, for my uncles, cousins, brother-in-law, nephew, friends and everyone who has served in uniform. I appreciate your sacrifice and service. Thank you.

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30 Days of Thanks Day 9: Charlotte’s Web

I often joke that my older sisters taught me to read at a young age because they were tired of hearing me whine, “Will you read to me?” My book case is packed with books featuring inscriptions like this one.

Now, I am helping one of my Personal Assistants improve her reading with the very books I learned on decades ago. We started reading together a year ago when she was studying to take the high school equivalency test.┬áLast week, we started reading Charlotte’s Web together. Or rather, she is reading Charlotte’s Web to me while I am doing other things like showering, brushing my teeth and using the toilet.

Charlotte’s Web has always been one of my favorite stories. I liked it so much I named one of my teddy bears Wilbur. My mom and I read the book together after Mrs. Flack read it to my class in school. I think we read it more than once, in between reading Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan.

That was thirty-five years ago. Reading it again as an adult makes me appreciate different aspects of the story. This time around I am noticing how E.B. White constructed sentences and used literary devices with great effect. I am enjoying rediscovering the story I fell in love with as a child, and I am grateful for the chance to reconnect with long lost friends.

P.S. Thank you to my big sister Susan and her family for always giving great books as gifts!

30 Days of Thanks Day 8: People of STAR

Since I have been riding my local paratransit busses regularly again for the past year, I have had the chance to meet and observe some interesting people. About two months ago, I jokingly made a comment that I should start a “Humans of Paratransit” column modelled after Humans of New York.

While I don’t have the time to write those essays just yet, today I am grateful for the relationships formed on the bus, and for the daily reminder of the need to continue to advocate for equality and access.

My morning started after exercise with a bus pick up at the pool. “Hannah” (she asked that I not use her real name) was my driver. Hannah makes everyone smile. She has something positive to say about everyone she interacts with, and I have never seen her in a bad mood. She is one of my favorites. Starting the day with her gives me a boost of energy.

Tonight I got to ride with a friend I have not seen in a few weeks. We chatted for twenty minutes as we drove from her pick up to my final destination at home. This morning I rode with a young man I know through work. We chatted about election day results and our plans to become more engaged with our local ADAPT chapter.

I complain about paratransit as much as everyone else. The system is far from perfect. I would love to see better use of technology to increase efficiency and communication.

But I am grateful for the personal connections I have made riding the bus regularly this last year. These almost make the reality of paratransit (the waiting, the late pick ups, the 2 hour rides to go 15 miles, etc.) bearable. Paratransit deserves its own post and maybe someday I’ll write it. For now, I’ll be grateful for human connection instead.

30 Days of Thanks Day 7: Rotary

Tuesdays used to be awful days for me. Mondays I could tolerate, but Tuesdays were the worst! Nothing ever went according to plan. Nothing positive ever happened on a Tuesday.

Then my Rotary club changed their meetings to Tuesdays and all of a sudden Tuesday became a better day! My club, the Colonie-Guilderland Rotary Club, meets Tuesdays for lunch. Although attendance is not mandatory, I have attended almost every meeting since July 1, 2016 because I am president of my club.

I became involved in Rotary when I joined my high school Interact club. Rotary sent me overseas for a year as an exchange student when I was sixteen. Rotary changed my life for the better and now I have the opportunity to give back and provide service in my own community.

Whatever is happening in my world, in our city, in our country, or in the world, I know that on Tuesday afternoon I will be able to sit in a room with people who are “doers;” people who see a need and say, “I want to help make a difference.” The positive energy and optimism that pervades the room lift my spirits and makes me enthusiastic about whatever else I need to accomplish on a Tuesday.

The Rotary motto is “Service Above Self.” Are you looking for a way to be of service to your community and the world? There are Rotary clubs in cities and towns around the world, including e-clubs!