On this, the day after Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that my father quit working one month shy of his pension. I was a peanut. He’d been a newspaperman for almost 40 years, and he’d burned out.
One month. He just couldn’t bring himself. He refused.
The financial insecurity that followed — combined with other health complications, mental and physical — forced my mother to earn a regular paycheck. She was a concert violinist of some global renown, but accolades were more easily earned than money. So she took a job teaching chamber music at an itsy-bitsy arts school, a move that shaped my life, and continues to shape it, in fruitful and miraculous ways. It led to an inexplicable chain of gifts that I could not have predicted but I see and celebrate now, the crick in my neck a small price to pay for looking backwards.
At that school I met the family who became my own after I lost my parents and sister. From that family came my love of soccer. From my love of soccer came my decision to attend Hamilton. At Hamilton I met my best friend. Because of my best friend, I went to work for a paper in the North Country. Her parents lived there; and it was there, in Thanksgiving of 1987, where I ate a pumpkin peanut butter soup that I taste still.
Because of that job in the North Country, I met my husband, Chris. He had worked for the same paper. Had some of the same friends. Through him I made more friends, and more friends, and more — some of the people I love most in this world. Through him I met and married into the tender, loving, gracious family with whom, just yesterday, I shared turkey and turnips and laughter and pie.
With Chris I made our three children. With Chris I made a life. So much of the good in this life we once shared — and the life I now have without him — came from that one, irrational, mysterious decision made by my father 40-some years ago. It made no sense then, and it doesn’t now. But I’m overjoyed he made it.