Thankful…

November 24, 2016
By

Hello, everyone. Well, it’s that time of year again. A time for giving thanks, fellowship, and comraderie. Yes, I’m talking about rivalry week!!! Winners will be giving thanks and losers will be lamenting their misfortunes. We will watch with friends and family and cheer on the good guys and boo the bad guys. And somewhere in the midst of all this we will squeeze in some turkey and dressing, celebrate Thanksgiving, and reflect on the good fortune of another year passed. 

One thing I am thankful for is friendships and what those special people mean to me. We may be fortunate enough to have many, many acquaintances but having someone that you can call a true “friend” is something that is very, very special. Yes, we  often refer to  many of those acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers as friends, but think about it. How many of those people could you, or would you, feel comfortable going to and sharing some of your inner most thoughts, concerns, ideas. Having someone in your life from whom you can feel confident in knowing that you will receive sound advice and guidance is comforting and reassuring. Having someone in your life that you know will selflessly look out your interests and not have hidden agendas when listening to you and offering help, is a priceless virtue. Having that intimate friend to whom you can share both the good and bad about yourself a precious gift. And, while you may laugh at this analogy, I think it is indeed fitting: Friendship, true intimate friendship, is like having a dog. When you see them, even after an extended absence, they welcome you, embrace you, and love you like you saw them just the day before.
 
I guess I’m extremely lucky to be able to call the Wizard my friend and mean it in the deepest sense. We usually only get together once or twice a year, but we fill the time in between with texts, emails, and phone calls. I have shared with him things I have not, nor would never discuss, with anyone else. I’ve expressed feelings of joy and gladness and feelings of sorrow and regret. We have laughed together and cried together. When I have been in need of sound advice in attempting to come up with a plan of action for something that is going on in my life, I’ve always felt confident that his thoughts and ideas will be tailored with my well being in mind. And I have reciprocated as best I could with him. 
 
But another thing about having someone in your life that you can call a friend is that often we emulate those qualities that set them apart and makes them special. One of the Wizard’s qualities that I have emulated is the way he engages with people. I’ll be honest with you. I have never been the most talkative and outgoing person on the planet. But I noted and observed his habit of talking with cashiers, stock clerks, or other people that we would run into on a day to day basis while out and about running errands. Initially I just thought that this is just how he is: a jovial, outgoing, character who liked to get a laugh out of people. But the better I got to know him, the more I realized that there’s a method to his madness. We’ve never really discussed this but it dawned on me that he does this not as much to be a jokester, but to put a little light in people’s lives. All you have to do is watch. We’ve been in a checkout line at a grocery store with a clerk who appears as if life has rode them hard and with a few quips, he has them smiling. And in the places he frequents, as soon as we cross the threshold to enter an establishment, the mood of the place brightens. 
 
So, I’ve been trying to do just that lately. Trying to bring a little joy into the life of the waitress down at the Waffle House who we all seem to take for granted until there’s something wrong with our eggs. Trying to bring a smile to the face of the clerk at the local convenience store who is still living with her parents while holding down two jobs and is worried about whether she can afford her car payment AND another few cans of baby formula before payday. Trying to bring a little happiness  into the life of the guy at the tire store who is running the counter, trying to change and balance your tires, and all the while, doing it with the temperature running at about 95 degress and humidity that is close to 99 percent. 
 
In doing this, it brings joy into my own life. And it has helped with my patience. By just trying to be a little more understanding and trying to be less demanding in my expectations of others, I have found that I can be reassuring to the guy behind the register who is having a difficult time trying to maintain his composure and not go into panic mode as more and more customers get in line to get checked out.
 
In fact, this new found patience came in handy the other day at the doctor’s office. I had been in for my regular checkup and had made my way out to the receptionists desk for payment and to make another appointment. As I approached, I noted the admin assistant talking to a woman on my side of the counter. The woman was not in the best of moods and she and the assistant continued to talk. And to talk. I overheard her speaking of her father and how difficult it was to handle him at times. How she was having a few health issues herself, making it hard to assist him. I tried to maintain my patience, resisting the urge to look at my watch and then at the admin assistant with the “look” of, c’mon dear, I ain’t got all day. 
 
And then the woman was gone, and the admin looked at me and said, “you know what? You just never know” She obviously interpreted my puzzled look correctly. At which time she told me that the woman’s father had alzheimer’s with dementia and that she was at her wits end trying to keep up with him. She said it was like this guy that came in and for month’s had just really been grumpy and adjitated. Then she found out that the man’s wife had gone to the hospital with pneumonia earlier this year and while in the emergency room hadn’t been given enough oxygen. As a result, because of oxygen starvation to her brain, she couldn’t function like a normal person and required assistance and almost 24 hour care. The man became her main caregiver, still worked, and had to take over as the sole parent for his two teenage daughters. And, to top everything off, his house had burned down and he lost everything. She said she found that out after many exasperating visits and that she now understood why his nature was as it was. 
 
Because, you just never know what’s going on in someone’s life. So, for me, I’m going to especially enjoy this Thanksgiving. While my childrens’ hectic lives will prevent them from coming home this year, we will travel to my wife’s parents’ house where we’ll be joined by her brother and sister and their spouses. We’ll give thanks for our family and friends. But, with my newfound boldness in trying to show appreciation and share joy with the everyday people I encounter, I’ll give thanks that I was able to maybe, just maybe, put a smile on someone’s face. Even if it was for one brief moment in their hectic day.
 
And that, my friends, is a joyful feeling.
 

Until Next Time,
 
I’m Harley Hanesworth 

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