Darrell Berkheimer: Being thankful for a lifetime of blessings
This past Thursday – Thanksgiving – was the day we were flying back to Sacramento from our one-week “honeymoon” visit to Maui, Hawaii.
That trip alone was more than enough for me to give thanks this year on Thanksgiving Day. But I also have a long list of other reasons to give thanks — a list that just grows longer as I add more items each year.
Most of all I am thankful because I am a very rich man.
No, I am not a millionaire. My riches are not in the bank or in stocks. My liquid assets would need to be stretched a bit just to reach six figures.
I am not a CEO who counts his worth in dollars. I list my thankfulness and count my worth in the many good people I have met in the various places I have lived and traveled. Many of them would go out of their way to help me, as I would for them. And yet many have been just good acquaintances — not my best friends.
It is people, experiences and memories that can provide us with our greatest worth — not bank accounts and the material items that we have accumulated.
I also am rich and most thankful because Mary Orr has accepted me as her partner for the remainder of our lives in a commitment ceremony earlier this month – thus the reason for the honeymoon.
My thanks list must extend back to the good and loving parents I had, who sacrificed some of their own pleasures so my brother and I could get university educations. And I thank my older brother who, by his example, instilled in me that yearning to learn through continual reading. Which brings me to how thankful I am for my good eyes that continue to do that reading.
My blessings also have included two beautiful daughters, and watching the younger daughter raise two wonderful granddaughters.
And how can I neglect to be thankful for the good health I have had for so many years. Few of us, at age 76, can report that the only daily “prescription” they take is a glass of orange juice. It was a prescription given to me years ago by my father; and I do follow it daily.
Our trip to Maui also emphasized my thankfulness for all my travel opportunities. Now I can say I’ve been to all 50 of our states. Hawaii was the only one I had not visited until this past week.
In years past I also had the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And I believe both should be granted statehood rather than be continued as mere U.S. possessions.
I’ve also been fortunate and thankful that I have been able to visit more than 40 of our national parks — from the Everglades to Olympic National Park in Washington state, and Acadia in Maine to Joshua Tree south of Twentynine Palms. And then there was my week-long photo safari in Kenya.
My travels allowed me to accumulate a wide array of photographs and write numerous related stories. All are stored on my laptop and an external hard drive so that I can enjoy those memories over and over again.
Of course, I have experienced many frustrations and disappointments throughout my life; but I tend to purposely forget about them, and concentrate on all the good that has happened.
And I am particularly thankful for being able to live in this area of Nevada County, where I am surrounded by a large group of caring individuals who gladly give of their time to help those less fortunate.
When we look around at how many helpful nonprofit agencies operate here, how can we not be thankful that we live among those who have such a spirit of giving?
I also am thankful for the peace of mind and security that we all share because of our soldiers and police who volunteer to protect our rights and liberties — and for my ability to write and crusade for the reforms that I believe our society needs.
I will continue to crusade for better health care and educational opportunities for all — especially the disadvantaged — and for us to show better stewardship for our environment and the animals that share this planet with us. We have much to lose as we continue to endanger the ecology of our planet. And we have an obligation to leave behind a safe world for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.
As our lifetimes near an end, our worth must not only be counted by the experiences, memories and relationships that brought happiness into our lives, but also by what we have given or provided for others — the legacy that we have left for them. That is our true worth, which can’t be measured in dollars and cents.
And finally, I am thankful for all who have been a part of my life — because it has been a good one.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. Contact him at email@example.com.
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