Focusing On Things To Be Truly Thankful For

JudithphotoBy Judith Kristen, AAP Columnist

Not that you can tell, but I wrote this column a day late and a dollar short. But, my ever-wonderful boss and friend, Frank Sinatra, understands why, and so here it is – and my extended deadline was yet another thing for me to be thankful for in this month of giving thanks.

And, speaking of thanks, for two weeks in October, I spent time teaching in Manchester, England and Liverpool. It was glorious! I learned as much from the students at those six schools as the kids learned from me. I was also there for Liverpool’s celebration of John Lennon’s 75th birthday; and needless to say, the joint was jumpin’! I got to write a few articles for stateside Beatles magazines, as well as doing an interview with the BBC – they love us crazy Yankee Beatle fans over there. To top that all off, I got to spend quality time with all of the friends I have made in Liverpool over the years; each and every one of them is fun and loving, kind, gracious, and beautiful in all the ways that really count.

So, again, in this month of thanks, here I sit typing to you with so much gratitude and love in my heart. The words are genuinely easy to write.

The words you may think would not be so easy to write would be about the loss of my darling and beloved son, Jon, who passed away suddenly this year at age 45 in the middle of a simple, routine surgery. But, here’s how it goes for me… and how it always went for Jon. We always knew life is way too short. And we lived our lives with that knowledge every day. Forty-five is too short… 15 is too short… and even 95 is too short when you look back and say, “How did all that time go by so fast? Why didn’t I do this… or that?” But time does that to all of us. So, it’s not the time we have, it’s how we use it.

Do your best every day to look at all the things that happen to you on the good side of life: love, genuinely close friends, the sound of laughter, gratitude, a beautiful day, blue skies; all the things that fill your heart with light and gracefully remove all of the darkness. When you hang your shingle out there… that’s not just a Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, that’s a Thanksgiving every day of the year.

And speaking of thanks, gratitude, and my beloved Jonny, I want to thank all of you for your love and kindness during this last half year without our Jon. And I’m doing lovingly well, thanks to my husband, Andrew, my pals, Bobbie Bechtel, Miss Evie Edwards, and Maryann Carney, as well as so many others. There are also lots of beautiful memories that such a really wonderful son leaves behind.

And, while the 45 years he was given was far too short, anyone who truly knew Jonny loved him and was fully aware that he really lived his life. He lived it unselfishly on his own terms. He was kind, loving and charitable toward others; he had a great heart; and compassion for our animal friends. He was goofy, fun, crazy, and whacky; he was forgiving of those who hurt him; and smart enough to move on. He was a terrific son, a true friend, and all around good soul anyone would be proud and privileged to have in their life.

So, in his honor, as well as to continue my life in my own way, I choose to look at the many splendid gifts I do have, and not dwell on the sad things. I acknowledge them of course, and even get ambushed by them in thought at times, but my life of gratitude, coupled with a heart filled with fearless love, fills up 99 percent of who I am and has given me a very good and joy-filled life in the process.

And I thank you all for being a part of it.

Do have a beautiful holiday and remember no tizzying over what should be a very happy time this Thanksgiving. Hold this thought: stressed spelled backward is desserts!

Peace and love and forever thanksgivings…



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