Gratitude Doubled

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Human_Infant_in_Incubator

Infant in incubator photo by Chris Horry, 2002.

As our way of offering Thanksgiving greetings, we share John Buchanan’s “Gratitude Doubled” reflection on becoming a great-grandfather of new-born twins in an incubator.

This Thanksgiving also marks the 18-month anniversary of grandson Elijah’s birth. Great-grandfather joy will have to wait a few years, but the sense of life as John speaks of it is immediate. Wishing you a grateful Thanksgiving.

Hold to the Good

Yesterday I experienced the most unlikely, most wonderful thing that has ever happened. I carefully extended my sanitized hand through the small, round opening in the incubator and, with my forefinger, gently touched the cheek of my brand new great-granddaughter, just 18 hours old. And then I did it again, reached through the small, round opening and touched the cheek of her identical twin sister, my second great-granddaughter.

I never thought much about great-grandparenthood. No one did. My great-grandparents were long gone when I was born and I have only vague memories of my parents talking about them, their grandparents. They were remote, to say the least.

But now, I am one, a great-grandfather and my new status has set me to ruminating – on, among other things, my own age. Unlike my great-grandparents, I’m still here, alive, well and reasonably active and healthy. And – I have seen and…

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Verse – Thanksgiving (acrostic)

Thanksgiving Pilgrims and Wampanoag all

Huddled together to eat by the fire.

After the Palefaces learned to trap fowl,

Native Americans also taught fair

Knowledge of maize farming. They heard of God’s

Son who had died for them, teaching of love.

Gathering to offer thanks for the goods

Ingathered at harvest, both of them have

Very much happiness to celebrate.

In years to come would be broken treaties,

Native folks killed, forced to flee or to fight.

Give thanks at least for a few meals in peace…

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana,  IL

Thanksgiving (Three Acrostics)

Editor’s Note: Be sure to read all three before drawing conclusions about the first. -:)

They can afford to drive that car?
How is it possible if they
Are getting food stamps? Is it fair
Now in America to be
Killing yourself with cigarettes,
Smoking away your life, and have
Grandkids while still having kids?
Is there no shame for those who live
Very foolishly on welfare,
Indulging in deserts — to say
Nothing about drinking that beer,
Giving thanks for another day?

Those weasels live above the law,
Having their attorneys to wheel
And deal so they will never pay,
Never spend one day in the jail,
Knowing taxes are not for them.
Some people live in luxury,
Give parties, always see their name
In papers, send their kids away
Very soon to schools where they all
Inbreed and learn of drugs–to say
Nothing about drinking Cristal
Giving thanks for another day.

Giving thanks for another day
Reminds me middle-class folks, too,
Are not perfect in every way:
Cautious, conservative, it’s true–
Everyone for self must pray.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, November 26, 2013

The Hitch-hiker and the Cop

Three college classmates who didn’t have two nickels to rub together decided to hitch-hike to B.T. Biggart’s home in Reynoldsburg, OH for the Thanksgiving holiday.

One of the rides was like the one in Steve Shoemaker’s story “Hitch-hiking” posted just minutes ago here on Views from the Edge. The three of us sat in the back seat of the driver’s big 1960 Ford 500 while he and his buddy passed the bottle between them, belted out country music, and swapped stories about women that are un-publishable. Eventually, by the grace of God, they dropped us off on the interstate in downtown Cincinnati.

Soon after we had stuck out our thumbs on the Interstate about 3:00 a.m., a Cincinnati squad car pulled over.

The officer asked for identification.

I had no wallet. My wallet was back at the college.

The officer declared that he could take me in for vagrancy.

“What’s your name, son?”

“Gordon Stewart, Sir,” I answered with my heart pumping faster and my knees about to buckle.

“Where you from, Gordon?”

“Broomall, Pennsylvania, Sir.”

“What’s your father do?”

“He’s a minister.”

“What church?”

“Marple Presbyterian Church in Broomall where I grew up.”

What kind of church?”

“Presbyterian.”

“What’d you say your name was?”

“Gordon Stewart.”

“Did your father serve in World War II?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Where did he serve?”

“Saipan, Guam, and Tinian in the South Pacific.”

(PAUSE)

“What branch of the service was your father in on Guam?”

“Army Air Force, Sir. He was a chaplain.”

“What’s your father’s first name?”

“Kenneth – Kenneth Campbell Stewart.”

“O my!!! After all these years! Red Stewart! Chappy Stewart! Well, I’ll be darned!

“You can go son. Just get a ride out of here as soon as you can. God bless you.”

So the cop who could have taken me in for vagrancy celebrated a vicarious reunion with his old Chaplain while we hitch-hiked to B.T Biggart’s for Thanksgiving – thankful for a serendipitous rescue from the boys in the Ford 500 and from the holding cell for vagrants.

Thanks, Dad! And thanks, Officer Anonymous! I never got his name. Grace abounds…even when you have no money and no identification.

Reading my own obituary!

It’s startling when you see your own name on the obituary page!

But there it is, right there, posted on the internet.

Published in the The Argus on 10 May 13

STEWART Gordon On 3rd May 2013, Gordon aged 86 years. Resident of Sussex Heights sadly missed by family and friends. Funeral Service at Hove Cemetery on Wednesday, 22nd May at 10.00 a.m. (Graveside service) Flowers or if desired donations for the Martlets Hospice may be sent to S.E Skinner and Sons, 145 Lewes Road, Brighton, BN2 3LG Tel. 01273 607446.

Condolences to the family of the older Gordon in Sussex Heights this Wednesday. Some day it will be this Gordon Stewart…with the middle initial ‘C’ on the obituary page, but I won’t be reading it. For Gordon’s family and for all who will eventually stands at the grave, this lovely graveside prayer from The Book of Common Prayer offers consolation and call us to live our days with meaning, thanksgiving, and hope:

O Lord, support us all the day long
until the shadows lengthen, and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.

Then, in Your mercy, grant us a safe lodging
and peace at the last.

The Greatest Human Invention (after Fire)

A post-Thanksgiving Day dinner verse by Steve Shoemaker

Some say it’s small and made of rubber,

No, the disposable diaper,

Say some

But after big Thanksgiving dinner,

My vote goes to the clear winner–

It’s TUMS.

Thanksgiving (an acrostic)

Thanksgiving Pilgrims and Wampanoag all

Huddled together to eat by the fire.

After the Palefaces learned to trap fowl,

Native Americans also taught fair

Knowledge of maize farming. They heard of God’s

Son who had died for them, teaching of love.

Gathering to offer thanks for the goods

Ingathered at harvest, both of them have

Very much happiness to celebrate.

In years to come would be broken treaties,

Native folks killed, forced to flee or to fight.

Give thanks at least for a few meals in peace…

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL Nov. 21, 2012