Lucky me!

You know, I thought I always knew what Thanksgiving was all about. After all, I’m a 50-year-old Christian man with a great family, a stable job and a comfortable home. What else could Thanksgiving possibly mean?

Well, my mother passed away 3 months ago. And while most of us in the family have always known what a treasure she was, that sentiment hit me like a ton of bricks in the days following her death. Not only did we have the opportunity to share stories and memories with family, but I also met people with stories I never knew. They were Mom’s coworkers at ShopKo and Prange-Way. Breast cancer patients who were on the other end of the support she provided. Neighbors, acquaintances, and even former in-laws. They all talked about not only how great a person Mom was, but how she specifically touched their lives.

When Mom’s breast cancer came back a few years ago, I remember sitting in the office with her and her oncologist. Immediately Mom said that she wanted to participate in clinical trials. There wasn’t even any thought process or time for consideration. She just did it. And even though these treatments for cancer were not yet proven, she told me that some day in the future, somewhere there is a woman who will benefit.

That was my Mom. That’s just how she lived her life. Back when I was 17, a junior in high school, she took me to donate blood for the first time. And now it’s easy for me to connect the dots. Some day, somewhere there’s a person who will benefit.

But, it’s important to note that Mom didn’t just give of herself. She did so while being thankful for everything she has. She faced every challenge in life not by saying “things could be worse”, but by saying “someone out there has it worse than me.” There’s a difference. She humanized it. She made it real. She actually prayed for and knew people who really did have it worse. And in doing so with such a caring and genuine heart, she taught me what it means to be grateful.

Listen, I know that in the grand scheme of things, my Mom was nothing special. After all, how many times have you heard someone say, “I’ve got the best Mom in the world”? What Mom wouldn’t give anything for her kids? If my Mom is the best, then I’m married to the close 2nd place finisher. My three sisters are great Moms. I’m watching my beautiful nieces morph from being kids into being good and caring Moms. I never knew my mother-in-law, but the signs are clear, she was a great Mom. I’m surrounded by many women who I consider to be great Moms.

But today, this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my Mom, because she taught me to be genuinely thankful for everything I have.

Lucky me!