This Thanksgiving, keep your family close

Some time ago, I read a Thanksgiving story about a blind boy who sat on the steps of a building with a hat at his feet. He held a sign that said: “I am blind, please help.”

There were only a few coins in the hat.

A man walked by and dropped a couple coins in the hat and he then took the boy’s sign, turned it around, and wrote something on it. He gave the boy his sign back and walked away.

People passing by started dropping coins into the hat and the hat filled up. The man returned to see how things were going. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”

The man replied, “I said what you said, but in a different way.” I wrote: “Today is a beautiful day but I cannot see it.”

Both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said he was blind. The second sign reminded people how lucky they were for being able to see the beautiful day.

The moral of the story was we should be thankful for what we have. We take so much for granted. There are always those less fortunate. When life gives us 100 reasons to cry, we should show life we have 1,000 reasons to smile and be grateful.

The story made me think about the things I have to be thankful for. This will be my 72nd Thanksgiving. My Thanksgivings have been filled with roses and thorns. The thorns make the roses more precious. We remember the good times and the hard times and we grow from both.

Like many of you, I have thanked God when good things happen. I don’t ask Him why. Sometimes when something bad happens, I question His wisdom. I have come to realize the flowers are wonderful, but it is the thorns that have shown me God’s comfort.

I will always remember Thanksgiving Day 1973.

I was a young wife and mother. I had never made a Thanksgiving Day dinner before, but I decided it was time. In the past, we had always been invited to either my in-laws or my folks.

My hubby worked at the paper mill, and often worked on Thanksgiving. Such was the case in 1973. So, Thanksgiving was set for the evening meal. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I scrimped and saved so I could make the turkey and all the fixings. I remember our two children helped decorate the turkey cookies.

My folks arrived midday, and Mom helped me with the finishing touches. I knew my dinner wasn’t as good as theirs always was, but it was made with love and I did my best. My in-laws left early but my folks stayed into the evening and we had such a good time visiting.

Very early the next morning the phone rang. My first thought was the paper mill. I answered the phone.

It was my mother. I will always remember her words as she almost whispered to me, “Lorna, come.” I was half asleep, and her quiet words did not register. I remember saying, “What did you say, Mom?” She repeated, “Come home, Lorna. It’s Dad.” Before I could ask anything else, the phone went dead.

I quickly got our children dressed and my hubby out of bed. We headed to Marion. My mind was racing a hundred miles an hour. I cried. I prayed. I worried.

When we got to Marion, the ambulance was just leaving. I learned my dad had passed away in his sleep that night. My heart broke. He was only 55 years old. Our family needed him. Why did God take him from us?

Later I realized what a gift I had been given. God knew how much I loved my Dad. Dad’s last day was spent in my home. He had his last meal with us. He sat at our Thanksgiving table and bowed his head when our daughter said the table prayer. Our family wasn’t one that hugged, but for some reason, I hugged Dad when he left that evening.

I’m sharing this story as a reminder that we never know when it will be our last time to be with someone. On this Thanksgiving Day, if you are fortunate enough to still have your parents or grandparents, share some time with them if you can, or call them. Don’t waste precious time by being angry or distant. Someday the chair they sit in will be empty. Never be too busy for loved ones.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” — Meister Eckart

Wishing you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Trivia question: When did the last passenger train depart from Shawano? (Answer on Page A5.)

Clothesline Conversation Answer: April 30, 1970 (Chicago & Northwestern)

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.