Gratitude

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It has been a rough couple of weeks for many reasons.  Even as I have been exhausted and stressed out, I have tried to remind myself that while these aren’t the best of times, things could certainly be worse.  I know.  I’ve lived through times that were much worse.

I spoke to The Commander today.  While I have had updates on his condition from friends and from his girlfriend, today was the first time I have been able to talk to him.  The sound of his voice brought a lump to my throat, but my heart filled with love and happiness to hear the strength and certainty that is Tony.  He is home from the hospital, and his girlfriend has moved in to help him and drive him back to the hospital each day for antibiotic infusions.  Tony laughed about getting sick.  He hadn’t been feeling well for a while, and he had been telling himself that it was time to slow down, but he hadn’t done it.  Tony said, “The man upstairs thunked me on the head and made me slow down.”

“I’m a great-grandpa now, you know,” he said.   Yes, I did know, and it is impossible for me to imagine.  How had he become an elderly man?  I recognized this, and once again, I was thankful to hear his voice booming on the other end of the phone.  I was grateful for these additional moments of having Tony in my life.

I told him that I had been thinking about him so often.  As I traveled to the state capital for meetings this week, I remembered my first trip there long ago with Tony.  I told him about the trip I had taken this week alone.  I had met with a new governor, a senator, and representative from my new district.  I reminded him of the similar trips he and I had made.  That was years ago now.  Once again, I thanked him for believing in me and for pushing me over and over again to strive for more.  I would not be the person I am today if he had not been such an influential and positive part of my life.  I pushed myself, because I had never wanted to disappoint him.  I told him this once again today, and I was filled with gratitude to be able to have this chance to talk to him, to thank him,  and to tell him how very much he means to me.

We didn’t talk for a long time, just a few minutes, but I was grateful to have had those moments with Tony on the other end of the phone.  His voice felt like home, warm memories of the past, like family.  I’m leaving for Atlanta tomorrow, but when I return home, I promised Tony I would visit him.  As we hung up the phone, I said, “I love you, Tony.” He returned those small, but important words.  I love you, too.

After I hung up the phone, I sat for a few moments in silence.  I felt warm and happy.  Love comes in many forms.  This man, old enough to be my father, yet not family, has been one of the most important and influential friendships of my life.  I said a small prayer of thanksgiving for the blessing he has been in my life.

Tonight at dinner, I gave my family an update on Tony.  As I spoke, there were tears in my voice as I shared with them how much Tony has meant to me, how scared I had been at the thought of losing him, and the relief I had felt to hear his voice sounding the same, sounding strong and like always.  T said, “I know, Pam.  He has been so important to you.”  Lola asked if we could see Tony soon.  I smiled, because my family understands, and they love him, too.

We often wonder why a person enters our lives, and so often the reasons are never revealed.  People come into your life, and sometimes they remain or sometimes they go. Some friendships endure while others simply fade away.  Some people are a joy to our lives, while other people seem to only cause damage.  I love it that this one story in my life has made sense.  The friendship has been tested at times, but the trust has never been broken.  Our curious friendship has endured.  This one relationship that really shouldn’t make sense has always made perfect sense.

Tonight I am grateful to have been given one more chance to say the words I love you to my dear, dear friend The Commander.

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