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Giving Thanks

(ROCKWALL, TX — November 19, 2018) The surgery was just a few hours away when I called home.

“I just don’t feel right about it,” Angie said. I debated at first, having psyched myself up all day long. After my graduate school classes, I was scheduled to be “fixed,” for lack of a better term. We had been blessed with three little boys and decided we should probably be done with late night feedings and diapers. Nevertheless, I called and canceled and took my bride to Olive Garden for lunch where we agreed that both of us weren’t ready for such finality, something just wasn’t right about it.

Eight years later, tears soaked the pages of my open book. I’d brought one along as we waited for Angie’s sonogram; after I heard “baby girl,” the dam broke and I was a blubbering mess.

I’m thankful we decided to wait.

For 15 years I served in a profession that was tough on me and my family, and that’s putting it mildly. I had staked my entire life on it, spent years pursuing a degree that would open doors and allow me to perform the job to the best of my abilities. I was burned out and all I worked for completely fell apart. I was at a loss, a ship without a rudder, a man who couldn’t allow his family to suffer. It was time for a change and somebody made a simple suggestion, “You should consider the classroom, you’d be an incredible schoolteacher.”

I was a hound on a blood trail. I signed up for teacher certification, studied nightly, worked two and three jobs, substitute taught, and got my foot in the door as a teaching assistant at J.W. Williams Middle School. Then, after a miraculous anonymous gift that would provide for my family till the new school year, I was hired to teach English and coach at Williams. The way each event occurred and each door opened, it was as close to a Red Sea parting as I’ve ever experienced. In two years I was honored to be voted Teacher of the Year at WMS, and after a decade I still love every minute in that building.

I’m thankful for those spoken words.

My parents owned a lake house on Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee. In the spring of 2000, a tornado ripped through and we heard that 11 full grown trees were downed around the property. My Dad asked if I’d drive him there to assess the damage because he was too shook up. He loved that place and was scared to death of what he’d find. It was a war zone, craters like bomb blasts pocked all around the property and tree trunks would need to be cut just to enter the driveway. Yet, not one tree damaged the house. By summer, we took another trip up to take pictures of the cleanup and go fishing. Along with photos of the yard, I took a few of our time on the lake. Little did I know it would be our last time for such an adventure. Soon after, Alzheimer’s crept in to take its toll.

I’m thankful for that fishing trip.

Often around the Thanksgiving table we’ll share stories for what we are thankful, that is easy, especially when we think of family. But when we think of those smaller moments, those events on which everything seems to depend, you really realize how fortunate you are. I know I do, and I whisper up a prayer when I stop and think about them, and boy, it seems like I do a lot of praying.

By Scott Gill is an RISD teacher, coach, and author of the book “Goliath Catfish.” Follow Scott’s blog at puptentpapa.blogspot.com and read more of his “Front Porch Ramblings” at BlueRibbonNews.com. 

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