Thankful? Always

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor


This time of the year social media, especially Facebook, is inundated with people from across the United States publicly sharing what they're thankful for.

Some are very serious (health, finances etc.) and others are whimsical (my Keuring –OK, that one was me).

Some follow set suggestions each day; others just randomly pop off with whatever strikes their fancy. Many say they're thankful every day and don't feel a need to tell the world.

Others look forward to sharing what's going on in their lives.

I straddle the fence because I do both. Every morning I thank God for the day He has given me – a day that starts with a clean slate and how I choose to fill it is up to me.

But I also acknowledge the little things I so often take for granted: electricity, water, Hazelnut creamer, my favorite pajamas.

As Thanksgiving looms on the horizon, I've put off writing my annual "thankful column" because it's been a trying year in and around Ten Broeck Manor.

Oh, I have much to be thankful for but I can't help but think about all the other "stuff" that has taken so much of my time, my emotions, my spirit.

The year started off as most – slow and unassuming and yet wildly unpredictable.

My office mates were dispersed to other locations just six weeks prior due to budgets and I was getting acclimated to working totally alone in my new office in the City Annex.

For the most part, it was fine. I'm an independent worker, a self-starter. 

But as things picked up, I was at a loss without Chris to be my gatekeeper/secretary/confidante.

But I managed, and by the time work picked up, I learned I was going to be a grandmother – something that took my mind off the tedious and the routine.

Tom and I enjoyed Easter in Las Vegas – thanks to a 2014 back surgery and a device called Coflex. He was pain-free for the first time in years and could walk – really walk.

In June, we drove the Florida Keys, ate some great food and snorkeled the pristine waters.

All too soon, it was over as my daughter-in-law developed pre-eclampsia, which put both her life and the baby's at risk.

My daughter learned she had some bizarre condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which all but left her infertile – at a time when she and her husband desperately ached for a child.

Then Tom's back went out. Again. And with a vengeance. This time, he couldn't walk, drive, do anything for himself and within a few short weeks was on short term disability because he was getting no better.

And there I was: working, caring for our home and Tom and trying to console my daughter long distance about her health. Topping it off, my doctor told me I had to get a grasp on my weight and blood pressure or I would be no good to anyone because I would be dead.

In August, my daughter-in-law had the baby five weeks early because her blood pressure put her life in jeopardy.

I was torn between being there and being here, but it all worked out as I juggled schedules and relied on family and friends just a little more.

Work become all-consuming and yet I still had so many familial obligations going at the same time that I thought I might lose my mind.

And then I learned my best friend's cancer had returned – and it's not curable. That's when I fell to pieces.

As I pondered the state of my life one day driving home from work after another 16-hour day, I said to God – out loud, "This is not the way it was supposed to be."

And He spoke to me. "And just how was it supposed to be, Carolyn?"

Out of nowhere, I felt a calmness envelope me and take a firm hold on my then-fragile emotions.

I knew –really knew–that as much as I like to think I am in control of my life, I am not.

And no matter what the storm, I have to be thankful for this is the will of God for me.

In the two months since that late drive home, both my best friend and my husband are worse. Neither is able to work now – maybe ever.

Chris not only left Williston, he left the company and I am truly alone.

But gratitude? I have so much of it.

Both Ashley and the baby are perfect.

A fertility specialist in Atlanta believes he can help my daughter conceive.

I did get my blood pressure and weight under control and I am healthy. I have to be: too many people are depending on me.

As I sit in my den Thursday, sharing a simple meal with my husband while we watch some zombie movie, I don't have to pause and say a prayer of thanksgiving.

I carry one with me every minute of every day.

Because I couldn't answer God the day He asked me a question.

I don't know how it's supposed to be. But I do know, I'm thankful for the opportunity to face the unknown. Always.