My Mother used to say, “We can’t count our blessings, can we Don?”
She was right, of course, because they are too numerous to list. But I can name a few at the top, which I hope will make my mother, who departed for the next life about 15 years ago, proud.
Of course most of our blessings start with faith and family. And it is no different with me. Faith is the foundation that I rely upon when times get tough, but more so just in everyday life. I am proud that my mother and father instilled in me a basic unyielding faith, and I hope Nikki and I have done the same with our three children. If all around me is falling apart, I can always count on my faith.
Now, do not get me wrong. I am not one to wear my faith on my sleeve at all times. Moreover, while I am a member of the Christian faith, I accept them all — Independent, Mormon, Jewish, Buddhist and, yes, even Muslim, because there is only one God.
I wish we — including myself — could act more like Christians more often. Practice conciliation and forgiveness more and confrontation less.
Jesus told us to follow the Commandments and then do just one other thing for salvation. What was it?
Give to the poor. Matthew 19-16-26.
He was counseling a young ruler who told Jesus he had followed the Commandments since youth and asked what more could he do for salvation? Jesus saddened him with his answer to give his vast belongings to the poor.
What bothers me about that passage is that I, like everyone else I know, have enough difficulty keeping the Ten Commandments without stacking on the other criterion, although Nikki and I do try to make significant contributions for the less fortunate in society each year.
Aside from faith, my greatest thing I am thankful for, by far, is my family, to include our oldest child, Candice Swiger, who lives in Daphne with her husband, Brad, and three children, Micah, Will and Avery; our middle daughter, Kristin Hua, who lives in Auburn with her husband, Aaron, and two daughters, Nicole and Shelby; and son, Lee, who lives in Pensacola.
And in addition to immediate family, my brother, Hollis in New Orleans and sisters Alpha Ulm in Nashville, Betty Granger in Montgomery and Debbie Simmons in Daphne, as well as all their families.
And, of course, I am thankful for lifelong friends — too many to list individually.
I would be extremely remiss if I did not mention the one person I am most thankful for — that being my wife (of 42 years) “Nikki,” a.k.a. “Carolyn.” I honestly do not know how Nikki, a registered nurse, has been able to do so much for me during the two years since my stroke without ever complaining.
Nikki has been wonderful, just as she was in 2001 when I had base of the tongue cancer. My advice is if you are going to have a serious illness, have a registered nurse for a spouse. And make certain it is one who loves you and will stay with you no matter what.
And I am thankful for Auburn. It is nice to live in such a great community.
So there you have it — faith, family, friends, community. These are things I am thankful for this year, as I am every Thanksgiving.