November is a time of friends, Pilgrims and feasting. We, like the Pilgrims, live our lives, pose to persevere and strike a thankful stance. Yet, many of us feel that life was better 30 years ago. So, I ask the question: Just how thankful are we, individually, and as a people, in this “land of the free”?
Like anyone, my life is full of challenges, more fortunate than many, more “tried” than some. Friends say I am “upbeat” even though my health forced my move to Nevada. I hesitatingly left my grown daughter, saying goodbye to friends of like mind and fun escapades. Nevada, for me, has been sunny climatically, but difficult emotionally. At least that is what I thought. Then I had a paradigm shift in my outlook.
In my pre-Nevada life I had friends who, despite my use of a power chair to traverse life’s physical paths, figured ways to include my daughter and me in trips, even exploring the trails of Mesa Verde in Colorado. We bonded as they pushed and pulled my chair over rocky ravines, up and down steeply slim slopes barely wide enough for my four wheels. We made up songs like “Five Brawny Broads” (tuned to “Three Blind Mice”) as we cautiously descended “accessible” trails.
We figured things out and nearly got killed in our attempts more than once. We had birthday gatherings, we laughed, we played, and we learned what friendship and caring really means. They were my muscles; I was their wordsmith.
Although I have friends in Nevada, we don’t explore the landscape or tackle trails. Memorable episodes with these newer friends seem few. So, as my birthday drew close, I was aware of an internal mopey demeanor. My daughter was up there, friends of 35 years were up there, and I was down here.
The up there gang had a “When I’m 64” Beatles bash for those of us of that vintage. I was invited, but health kept me Nevada-side. I was there in spirit; they made sure I knew I was not forgotten. Is it any wonder that I longed to be with my old gang?
Birthday morning arrived. I stayed busy trying to ignore my isolation. My morbundity grew through the day. How often do we feel life just isn’t fair? I finally gave into my demise. Before the sun set, I crawled into bed. I wanted to be with my daughter and the gang.
Within moments of succumbing, a Nevada friend texted me to see if she could drop over. In my doldrums I texted that it had been a rough day, I was in bed. Then another friend texted, and another.
Then a friend and her whole family showed up at the door, singing to me and giving me a handmade card the size of an election-day billboard, filled with birthday wishes from more than 25 friends.
Where had my brain been?, I asked myself. Nevada is also my home. I have friends I love and care for here, as well as from my other home. We have shared — although differently. We have cried and laughed together — although for different reasons. I shared the 3 a.m. moon eclipse with a 30-year friend while at the same time sharing with a couple of my newer Nevada friends.
The closing line in the movie “Always” has it all wrong. We do not move friends out of (our) heart, we just make more room for new friends.
In my 64th year, life is not better here or there; it is just different. Each place, each friend, is spectacular; it is not a replacement. Each is unique and glorious in its own dimension, in the singular joy it brings to our lives.
It is like the hummingbirds that grace my feeders. Each hummer is beautifully unique; the way the sun catches the light on its gorget, each has its own personality. So are the friends who have graced my life. We connect for precious moments in our lives. Each has taught me so much without saying a word.
So, may this Thanksgiving find you full of happy memories of those who have gone before, of friends you see less often, while you live in the joy of today with thanksgiving of the here and now. You are here to grace the lives of the rest of us, we are here to let you know you matter to us.
We are a small town, most of us know you, or of you, or know someone who knows you. The sun rises over El Dorados at the same moment for each of us. We share in the loss of dear friends. We exult in the joy of a child returned from whatever mission is now their life. Our town would not be complete without any one of us any more than Plymouth Colony would have been complete without William Bradford, Samuel Fuller or any of the Pilgrims.
Life, joy, caring and friendship know no bounds. We choose to open our arms and hearts, to find joy in those near and far. No matter where we live, no matter where our friends live, life is good and is joyful — if we embrace it with our whole hearts.
By the way, wasn’t that a gorgeous sunrise! Tomorrow may be even more spectacular! Ah … Isn’t life grand?
Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to “Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships” for youth. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.