Change and Thanksgiving

Since it has been three weeks since my last post, perhaps I should explain why I have not been writing. Connie and I have been undergoing a major move to a new city. We are now living in Valdosta, Georgia, near our daughter, son-in-law, and five grandchildren. It has felt like an upheaval in our lifestyle and circumstances. At our age, a change of this magnitude is not easy.

But we are not the only ones experiencing profound change. Today I had a conversation with a neighbor, Steve, who described his feelings about gradually losing his eyesight. He is learning to adjust to some unpleasant realities because the doctors have told him there is no cure for his condition.

My son Michael and his wife Lulu are grieving the unexpected illness and death of their beloved golden retriever, Sampson. He was a beautiful creature and a gentle and faithful companion. My wife and I cried too, when we got the sad news.

Yesterday I read a Facebook post from my friend Jason whose lovely wife Lori has entered a memory care facility because of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Even though they both knew this change was coming, it was painfully difficult. Jason expressed his grief in a sensitive and beautiful lament.

Each of these people in their own way coupled their sense of loss with expressions of thanksgiving. Steve thanked God for his grace in helping him  navigate with limited vision. Michael wrote a touching Facebook tribute to his dog, whom he called his best friend for eleven years.

Jason thanked his “angels,” friends who have been present to help him and Lori. He expressed gratitude for the 24 years he and Lori have been married and for her written words in a journal, which continue to speak to him now. He described feeling a “profound sadness and overwhelming gratefulness.”

Change is hard. It just is. I am experiencing the change of saying goodbye to a great network of friends, leaving the beautiful house we loved, and trading familiar surroundings for a different environment. But like the others, I do this with thanksgiving.

I am thankful that I get to do this with Connie. She and I are thankful for our apartment in the very nice retirement community where we have chosen to live. It is smaller, much smaller, than our house was. But she and I agree that setting up housekeeping here has been fun, sort of like when we were newlyweds getting established in our first place.

We are very thankful for our children who lovingly helped us with the move. All five of them received some of our furniture. Our two sons, Jay and Michael, transported it all to Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, and here by UHaul. When we arrived in Georgia, Carrie, John Mark and Michael had our furniture in the apartment, set up and ready for us.  Our kids are our heroes!

One more thing. Connie and I are thankful that we get to live near our Georgia grandchildren and closer to the others also. I look forward to playing golf and pickle ball, and fishing with my grandsons. I anticipate attending my granddaughters’ volleyball, basketball, and soccer games.

Last week, my granddaughters, Charis and Lizzy, brought Chic-fil-a to our apartment and we had supper and board games together. It was great! Lizzy and I spent four hours another afternoon putting together a 3-D puzzle of the Neuschwanstein Castle. Grandchildren are grand! How could I not be grateful?

So yes, change is hard. But I am thankful.

Pastor Randy Faulkner