Friday, February 17, 2012

On Gratitude

When I make gratitude lists, they are usually made up of small, daily items--a sunrise, birdsong, that sort of thing. Then last weekend I was reading Louise Penny's third novel in her Three Pines mystery series. These are very literate novels for the genre, and one of their features is that Penny takes a theme and works it. The theme in this third book, The Cruellest Month, is worthy of a Greek tragedy in which people already have what they always wanted but don't recognize it, and destroy it in the very act of trying to obtain it. She got me to thinking about what I've always wanted, and what I have, and how tragic it would be if I lived my whole life wishing and not seeing what was right there.

So here's my new gratitude list, and I've been thinking all week about how blessed I am.

1. All through high school and my first two years of college, I was desperately lonely--not for women friends, but for a man, god help me. What can I say? I wasn't liberated yet. Be that as it may, I wanted a boyfriend in the worst possible way and my junior year of college, I finally got one--Mr. Simply, in fact. And for the next three years, I wanted nothing more than to be Mrs. Simply, and then I got that too. We still are married. I cuss about it sometimes, but bottom line? I got what I wanted and it's been a pretty good deal for me overall. I haven't been lonely since 1973.

2. Also my junior year in college, I set my heart upon a certain career path, which meant I wanted to go to grad school, too. Eventually I was able to do that not once, but twice (thanks in large part to the aforementioned Mr. Simply), was crowned "Dr. Simply", and entered my desired profession. Thirty years later, I'm still working in the same field. It's hard sometimes, but there's not much else I'd be as happy doing: I got what I wanted, and I intend to keep on doing it until they carry me out of the office feet first.

3. I wanted a house of my own. I agitated for one for years. We shopped for nearly that long (I swear we must have seen every house for sale in three counties), and we eventually bought one. As I believe I've mentioned before, although this was intended to be our starter house, we'll probably die here. We're not moving up to that Buckhead mansion! The bottom line though, is that I have what I always wanted: A cozy, sweet little house of our own.

4. I always thought I wanted a houseful of foster and adopted kids, and so we did that, too--once. And since Simply, Jr. was probably worth six of anybody else's, I consider that I got what I always wanted.

5. I love dogs, always have, and except for one brief span, have never been without a  good dog (and sometimes more) in the house. When Daisy was born, I begged Mr. Simply for weeks to let me keep her: He finally relented, and I can say without hesitation that the fifteen years I had with her were some of the best of my life. Daisy gave me a whole lotta love, much joy, and many happy memories. There's another good dog at my feet right now.

6. I decided back in the '80s or thereabouts that it would be cool to have a parrot, specifically an African Grey, the price of which was well out of our tax bracket. Some twenty years later, out of the blue one was offered to me for adoption, absolutely free, and so once again I got what I wanted. She'll probably outlive us, so she is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

7. I have loved to read ever since my mom first taught me how and in the following 55 years, I have never been without a steady supply of good books. There's one waiting for me on my bedside table right now.

So I've got my man, my son, my dog, my birds, my books, my career, and my house. What more does one woman need?