from Rachel: I Am Thankful…

“I am thankful…


  • “that I am a child of the King
  • “that He has forgiven all my transgressions (Psalm 32:1)
  • “that I’m finally keeping one of these (silly) journals Oprah keeps promoting
  • “that I am laid back enough to not get stressed out if I miss a day sometimes (/often)
  • “for a break in the hot weather, if not entirely in the humidity
  • “that I have cruise control now – ready for the trip
  • “that we can afford little luxuries
  • “that I get two vacations!


  • “for willing babysitters – today Mary
  • “that I finished the first coat in my corner
  • “that the weather was even more pleasant today
  • “for junk food when there’s no time for dinner
  • “that even when Randy gets angry, I still love him and feel no fear of him.”

I wish I knew what had happened that day. I don’t like myself when I lose my temper.


  • “for our good boy who patiently listened to music and entertained himself while I painted some more
  • “for new taste experiences (Taco Bell)
  • “that we weren’t too late in reserving to get into the hotels we had chosen
  • “that Daniel likes so much of our music so well, if sometimes too well
  • “that Randy is having such a good time with his new passion”

Again, I’m wishing I had more context here. I think you must have been painting the bedroom – and yes, he did get so much more into Sam Phillips than we ever did ourselves. My new passion? Maybe that was when I started getting into anime, maybe that was the internet, maybe it was fanfiction (which came out of the confluence of the first two), I just don’t know.


  • “for electricity
  • “for kind in-laws who let us sleep over
  • “for fans
  • “that the basement hasn’t flooded again
  • “for new pens to pick up tomorrow


  • “for an unclogged gutter
  • “for good friends, good food, and good movies
  • “for the resolve which keeps me journaling
  • “for cooler (almost chilly) weather
  • “for a husband who helps cook


  • “for new pens
  • “for a new muffler (especially free – last year’s was defective)
  • “for my stubbornness and determination when I harness them to complete a task
  • “for a very helpful handyman (Dan)


  • “for someone willing to repair gutters
  • “that we are mostly packed
  • “that Daniel is nearly potty-trained
  • “that Sally shows promise in the kitchen
  • “that my fabric wasn’t all sold yet”

Was that because it was still available for you to purchase? I wish I remembered what was going on here.


  • “that I’m getting to bed at 1, and not 3 before the trip
  • “that I’m almost all packed
  • “that I have loved ones who will miss me (us)
  • “for a healthy car (Lord willing)
  • “that line 2 works! ($100 saved)”

More missing context on that last one, but at least I can recall our preparations for our road trip through Wisconsin that year. Oh, but that must have been earlier in the year, because…


  • “that I’m here (Middle Bass, OH) with Daniel and stuff
  • “that we caught our ferry with a little time to spare
  • “that I didn’t stay lost any longer, have any longer delays, leave any later, or get overconfident and miss the boat
  • “for everything here – always just as I remember it
  • “for my wonderful parents”

So this was the second vacation you referred to on the 21st of July; judging by the fact that you’re driving your car, I was probably unable to go with (indeed, given that you’re out there on the first of the month, when I would be starting to close the books, they’d have never let me go even if I had the time banked). As for your parents, well… I do hope you’re with them both these days.


  • “for my 2 fish (We’re all tied right now)
  • “that Cameron’s brother David keeps him pretty well distracted from us
  • “that I could manage a quick swim today
  • “for tonight’s church social (and good food)
  • “for my favorite place in the whole world”

I’m still working on it, honey, but we’ll get you there one last time. I don’t know if it will be in 2022 or 2023, but we’ll get you there to stay eventually.


  • “that Jim and Ellie came to visit
  • “that I caught a catfish
  • “for card games on rainy nights
  • “for the exciting weather up here
  • “for electricity (if it holds)


  • “for more exiting weather
  • “that I finished my swim/hair-wash before the rain
  • “that we came in this evening with moments to spare before another rain
  • “for rainbows (full arch)
  • “that Daniel loves riding in the boat


  • “for calm enough weather tonight to go out and catch my sheephead on the other side
  • “that I didn’t lose my hook to my snag
  • “for crossword puzzles
  • “that Daniel did his thing on the ‘little potty’
  • “for wild, almost inaccessible, unexplored beaches


  • “for 5 fish today – 1 black bass, 1 white perch, 1 sheephead, and 2 catfish (the second one almost got away because I tied my knot wrong and he shed(?) it off as he fell into the boat (Whew!)
  • “that my car battery isn’t run down
  • “that I won Chinese checkers, too
  • “that none of us fell into the water
  • “that Daniel napped so we could swim


  • “that Daniel braved the beach and even the water a little (with a lot of encouragement and a little forcing)
  • “that I’m luckier in fishing than in rummy (250, 250 to 50)
  • “for gulls, geese, clouds, waves, sunsets, et cetera
  • “for Daniel’s peaceful, calm moments (today at the table, after lunch with Harvest Time pieces and after swim and bath with shells and rocks)
  • “for a pretty nice ‘last normal day on the island’


  • “that we’re almost all packed before midnight
  • “for 3 fish, though small – 1 too much so to keep
  • “for Mom’s cooking, especially how she makes leftovers so delicious (creamed turkey on toast)
  • “for a terrific week: 15 fish and 5 swims. Also 3 crossword puzzles, 2 rummy games, 1 batch of double solitaire and 1 Chinese checkers
  • “for a wonderful climbing tree (which may not live to see next year)


  • “for a safe journey home
  • “that my car didn’t overheat in the construction
  • “that I was bold enough to try city streets, and that I didn’t get behind in doing so (I actually came out by the same blue semi and camper towing a red car)
  • “that Mom and Dad arrived home safely, too
  • “for early bedtimes”

At the risk of seeming overly snarky, it’s clearly been a long time since you were thankful for an early bedtime, sweetheart.


  • “for fun and games (last night/tonight: computer pool, O’NO99, and darts)
  • “that Randy and I enjoy so many of the same things (all the games listed above and anime)
  • “that I am healthy, and so are Randy and Daniel
  • “that our parents are too (met Lois K. today – blind)
  • “for willing workers this week (and money to pay them with)


  • “that the rain let up long enough for Dan to get a good start on the deck
  • “for a relaxing day (although too much so)
  • “that God has already forgiven me for all my sinful overindulgence
  • “that Mike is probably coming some evening this week (may it work tomorrow)
  • “for jobs to keep me focused


  • “that Jeff is going to check my car
  • “that Randy took me to Omni instead
  • “for Ralph and Mary’s wet/dry vacuum
  • “that Ralph got us our reservations
  • “for Mike and his safe travel here and back


  • “that the dinner Sally and I cooked was yummy (pea pods, mushroom… illegible)
  • “for sunny weather for Dan to work
  • “for a visit to the neighbors (cordial, but enjoyable)
  • “that I’m reading again (Wide Sargasso Sea)
  • “that I got all the dishes washed


  • “for how much dirt came off, and how much better the deck looks
  • “that Daniel likes the alphabet and learning
  • “that some of my shirts go with my new shorts
  • “that I used Mom’s zucchini and all of our mushrooms
  • “that I got all the newspapers sorted


  • “that we’re nearly all packed
  • “that Jeff has confidence in my car
  • “that Jenn and Bill are engaged
  • “for a husband who sees me as beautiful
  • “for a son who can be good when he tries


  • “that we’re on vacation (our first as a family; i.e., since the honeymoon and besides Middle Bass)
  • “for no car problems so far
  • “for a fun day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire
  • “for breaded cheese curds
  • “that the threatening clouds passed with only light showers (despite thunder)


  • “for a great used bookstore, with a kind owner
  • “that our schedule will allow the Children’s Museum on Tuesday
  • “that we didn’t give up, and saw a good ball game after a three-hour rain delay
  • “that God is working everything for the best
  • “that we get to come back (for free) in two weeks – rain check


  • “for Daniel’s first time on a regular toilet
  • “for no rain at the zoo
  • “for a fun day at the zoo
  • “that I did remember to bring a pair of slacks and warm shoes (although more would have been better)
  • “that the Inn has a microwave so we could warm our leftovers for Daniel


  • “for a cool Children’s Museum (Betty Brinn)
  • “that we had no delays (due here by 4:30)
  • “for a fun fish boil
  • “for the great indoor pool and whirlpool
  • “that Daniel let me take him and Mickey across the entire pool and enjoyed playing there


  • “that the rain wasn’t any harder
  • “that Daniel behaved well at the lighthouse (Eagle Bluff)
  • “that we found the thrift store
  • “for Swedish pancakes and candy stores
  • “that Daniel will now jump to us from poolside and ‘bob’


  • “for a safe trip to the Dells
  • “that we found a Shakey’s (good buffet)
  • “for this morning dip for 2 in the whirlpool, hair washes for Daniel and me, breakfast, and still time for a quick last swim
  • “for further success in training Daniel


  • “for a fun day despite the ‘kitsch’
  • “that Daniel loved the Ducks (or ‘Scarry buses’)
  • “that I’m not so gullible as to believe the story of the ‘Wonder Spot’
  • “that Daniel enjoyed most of Robot World
  • “for low-key things to unwind with: a park with horses and a rocket, Chinese food, and Legos there (also for a quick swim by myself from 9:30 to 10:30)


  • “for a good buffet breakfast (Country Kitchen)
  • “for ducks to feed (and stale bread to feed them with)
  • “for fun at the circus
  • “for a good dinner at the Pizza Pit
  • “that we only have to stay one night at Ray’s Riverside Resort”

Yeah, that was on me; I couldn’t find a decent hotel in Sauk City, and the fishing cottage I was able to book was a tiny little room barely bigger than the bed itself. We survived it for the one night, and moved on from there. We can do so much better now, but you’re no longer here for that. And all I can do to console myself is to remember how much better heaven must be than even the most palatial estate.


  • “for free ice
  • “that I found the jackets (and sweater) missing
  • “that we didn’t leave them at a further away motel
  • “that our change of plans worked out okay
  • “for Little Norway
  • “for the beautiful Cave of the Mounds


  • “that Daniel liked and ate both meals (although he ate as much of my brat as he did of his burger)
  • “for the builder of the House on the Rock and all his beautiful collections
  • “that the weather is mild, as our room has no air conditioning (Swiss Aire – New Glarus)
  • “that I have remained regular throughout the trip
  • “that Daniel is better with his training, too


  • “for free frozen water jug at the butcher’s
  • “for Wisconsin cheeses
  • “for delightful hosts (Nancy, Michael and Kaitlin)
  • “for animals on their friend’s farm (llamas, goat, cows, dogs, puppy & kitten)
  • “that I was brave enough to discuss religious beliefs (even though I don’t like what I heard)”

We visited your childhood babysitter (and you remained in touch with her thereafter) in Roscoe, Illinois. Like with Ellen and your folks, you were always concerned for her spiritual welfare, although (like with Ellen) you weren’t comfortable talking with her about it, and didn’t sense you were making any progress with her when you did. But you made the effort, darling, and it’s more than I would have been able to do.


  • “for the lovely Anderson Japanese Gardens
  • “that Randy became more comfortable with the Olsons
  • “for safe journeys home (and throughout our trip)
  • “that Ellen could come over
  • “for cheese and sausage (and candy and fudge)


  • “for a fun day with Sally (finishing her vacation)
  • “for garage sale finds
  • “for hot dogs and onion rings
  • “that Dan finally stained the deck
  • “for ‘Say Anything’ and neck rubs”

I would play Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ at this point, but that can be for another time, and it’s hard enough to transcribe all of this; I think I would go to pieces listening to it while I continued working on all of these memories of yours.

I know my wrists and shoulders would get tired from massaging your neck, but I so wish I could do that again for you now.


  • “for another fun day with Sally
  • “for her gift certificate to Harry G’s Crabhouse
  • “that Mary volunteered to have Daniel over, just when I needed (/wanted) her to. Thanks, God.
  • “that Daniel behaved and sat quietly
  • “that we have friends who are talented and becoming successful and so fun to listen to and to watch (of course, I mean Al & Andi)


  • “for Dunkin’ Donuts
  • “for used book stores
  • “that the rain let up before the game started, so there was no delay
  • “for fireworks (and no rain to prevent them
  • “that Princess Diana’s demise was swift”

Which sort of confirms that you would likely have thought the same about your own, I guess.


  • “for the freedom to worship as we choose
  • “that we were able to get up and get to church relatively on time
  • “for a quiet afternoon and evening at home
  • “for relaxing tools to overuse: TV (Touched By An Angel), movie (Stripes), computer games and crossword puzzles.


  • “for a restful yet productive holiday
  • “that the sewer drain is finally routed out (and for talented relatives)
  • “for the Bowl House (and the fact that they don’t close on holidays)
  • “that the chainsaw is finally together and working
  • “for resolutions new and renewed (may I stick to them)


  • “for safe chain-sawing
  • “for a very productive day of yard work (thanks to a predicted rain that never did)
  • “that Daniel behaved so well while I worked
  • “for an upcoming carpet cleaning to make me find the floor (and clean all the stuff)
  • “for Ellen’s shoulder and arm rub


  • “that Daniel didn’t behave as badly all day as he did from 3 to 7
  • “for patience so I don’t hurt him
  • “that he goes to bed without protest (if quite late)
  • “that he seems to look forward to starting preschool
  • “for a possible worship pastor


  • “that Daniel behaved better today
  • “for new gutters (finally!)
  • “that Randy has his car back (just in time)
  • “for small inroads into the mess
  • “that Daniel finally went to sleep (I shouldn’t have said it last night; I guess I jinxed myself)


  • “for a good first day of preschool
  • “for long naptimes
  • “for free firewood (on the curb on Dove Street)
  • “for Ellen as favorite babysitter
  • “for John Parker (great leader and host)
  • “for Papa John’s at Signs Today


  • “for a quiet, relaxing Saturday
  • “that Daniel will sit quietly through the Ranma jukebox (since he gave up trying to nap)
  • “for the grill and ‘a burger bash!’
  • “for a portobello ‘burger’
  • “for Doctor Who (and the Steves – both Lilja and Snyder)


  • “that Daniel went calmly to Beginners (he balked a little, and said, ‘the other one’)
  • “for a delicious mushroom and garlic stew
  • “that Ellen is there to talk to when we need her
  • “that Daniel still likes a quick dinner of baby food
  • “that Daniel was in bed before 11 (it sounds awful, but it’s better than Friday or Saturday)


  • “for more time to vacuum and clean in general
  • “that apparently, Daniel hasn’t hit, pushed, pinched, etc. any of his classmates
  • “that Awana started well (without problems)
  • “that Daniel likes Encarta (encyclopedia CD)
  • “that God loves and forgives me no matter how many times I do the same foolish sin (computer games until 3 a.m.)


  • “that Sally could awaken me (after last night’s late night)
  • “that my old Pontiac is going to good use
  • “for Chinese at Signs Today (out of Hong Kong)
  • “for the circus (K-mart parking lot)
  • “that the man didn’t fall jumping a rope on the thing”

Judging from the diagram, it looks like a contraption that I’ve seen since billed as the Wheel of Death. Don’t know what a rope would be doing there (unless he was showing off that much more by jumping rope while in the midst of the ring)


  • “for too much TV (4 hours on and off) and a nice fire
  • “for hopeful news from back home (may visit on Tuesday)
  • “for dishes done
  • “for a bigger choir
  • “for a cozy bed to fall into


  • “for BSF” (Bible Study Fellowship) “(may it get me back on track)
  • “that the children’s program will start soon (and that Daniel liked it there more than he thought he would)
  • “for Jean until then
  • “for a successful day of running errands
  • “for Randy who tries to be forgiving and understanding when I am 2 hours late


  • “for our 5th anniversary”

And that’s where your thankfulness journal comes to rather an abrupt end. To be sure, it had been an eventful month and a half, what with two vacation trips (and all the lovely little things to thank God for along the way on each of them), some repairs to the house, and Daniel starting pre-school, but I’d be curious as to what happened next. Then again, I didn’t even do this much in terms of recording my thoughts and impressions of life then, so I’ve no room to talk. Well, I guess I’m making up for it now, although you’ll never know about it.

Now, you tried again the following year (and I may put that up next year accordingly), but this was the bulk of it. You mentioned BSF near the end of this stretch, and I think you saved much of your writing for that ever after. Still, as I’ve been transcribing this to send out on Thanksgiving morning, 2021 – our first one apart in almost thirty years – I want to say how thankful I am for those thirty years, and for the chance to hear from you again here and now, if only as a faint echo of yourself.

Say hello to everyone up there for us, darling. We miss you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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