On Appreciating

Edith here, north of Boston, trying to ride the cusp between summer and fall.

Appreciation, gratitude, thanks – I think I sometimes use these terms a bit too lightly. The etymology of “appreciate” is setting a price, but has come to mean understanding the value of a thing, person, or action.

I am grateful for much in my life: my health, my family, my ability to craft stories, and my good fortune in having people out there who like to read those stories. I try to thank people when it’s appropriate, when I feel it, when I know it’s needed. But appreciation? Let me give you couple of examples. They both relate to thoughts I’ve had about memorial services. It’s important for many reasons to celebrate a person’s life after they have slipped the mortal coil. But what about celebrating them while they’re still here to hear it? Of course none of us has any idea when we’re going to encounter the TIME’S UP sign. (My dad died suddenly when he was 63, and I was so glad we were on good terms and I had

Lynn Mooncat Buck's author picture, taken at Pyramid Lake, from the back cover of her second novel, AMANDA'S HOUSE (2002).

Lynn “Mooncat” Buck’s author picture, from the back cover of her second novel, AMANDA’S HOUSE (2002).

let him know of my love and appreciation frequently.)

Many years ago I attended a fabulous Women’s Writing Retreat (still ongoing every July) in the Adirondacks. One of our elders, an author and feminist in her late seventies who went by the camp name of Mooncat, read a poem one night that she’d written for her second husband. She prefaced it with, “I just wish I’d written it while he was still alive.”  So, several of us wrote a beat poem for her one afternoon and performed it at the closing campfire. She loved it! She died several years later, and I was grateful we had honored her while we could.

Richard Gale is a long-time attender of Amesbury Friends Meeting (Quaker). He has almost singlehandedly managed and improved our historic Meetinghouse for fifteen years. He’s now 85, and after a tough year, healthwise, he recently stepped down EdithandRichardas Clerk of the Building Committee. I love this guy dearly, and nobody knows how long he’s going to be around.

I’m Clerk of the Meeting these days (for Quakers, that means being in charge, sort of), in addition to all the other stuff I do. So I took Clerk’s prerogative and wrote a Minute of Appreciation last week. I read it at our business meeting Sunday, and Friends gladly accepted it, then I read it again at the end of worship. Since Richard also LOVES pies and his dear wife Annie does IMG_2357not bake, I also organized Pies of Appreciation and baked one myself.

Richard was touched and delighted. We all sampled some of the seven pies, but he still had four full pans to take home. And we had the satisfaction of honoring him.

Readers: Who have you let know you appreciate them lately? Anybody you missed the chance with and wish you’d acted more promptly?

21 thoughts on “On Appreciating

  1. What a nice post, Edith.
    I will say, I appreciate my Walking Friend. She is not a writer but an avid reader, and she patiently listens to me bounce around ideas. She is also a pediatrics ICU nurse, and what she does every day is astounding (and sometimes disgusting) to me, but she is humble. Most of all, she is an excellent friend, and I try to be the same for her. And we tell one another. We end every walk with a hug and an “I love you!” even when we are gross and sweaty.

  2. The woman who comes to our house to clean and generally help out seems, in many ways, more like a friend than a housekeeper. She is kind and always seems to know what to do. And she is very good at it. We also have interesting conversations. If I had my way we’d just sit at the kitchen table and drink tea and talk. We had a big hug and mutual thank you last week.

  3. When my first mystery was published, I kept meaning to get in touch with the English teacher who’d been supportive of my writing early on. Just as the second was coming out, I finally tracked John Royston down, only to learn he’d died of a heart arrack a few days before. It taught me a lesson: shower gratitude today for tomorrow may be too late.
    I loved all your pies!

  4. Years ago my parents had a friend that was ill and dying. They sent him flowers instead of waiting and sending them to the funeral. It was a powerful message to me and I’m lucky I live in a family who taught me to appreciate what I have and those around me.

  5. A great blog.I’m 80 and still work part time to keep off the couch and my circle of friends is becoming smaller and smaller. At work I see so many older people that come in because they are lonely and my boss lets us chat with them. My best friend, the keeper of all secrets is 92. She still keeps her passport current and always tells me I have to change be more like her. I wished I could but my hubby said the same thing before he died. But you are who you are and my friend and I are the Checks and balances in our life.A work I’m around co workers who are young enough to be my kids and even grandkids and I’ve added several new friends to my circle. Kids my kids went to school with that have lost their parents. Life is good.

      • Sometimes we think of kindnesses we could do, and let the moment pass. I want to let you know that this post caused me to do something I’d thought of so many times! I’m a member of the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild here in the Tampa Bay area and have been since the 80s–even served as president in 1992. Back then they used to give the outgoing pres. a plaque “for dedicated leadership.” They stopped doing it years ago. Our current president has held that office for several years! Calls himself “president for life,” and gets very little recognition for all he does. Does this man deserve a plaque? You bet! I went to the trophy store today with my old plaque and ordered one made. Here’s what it says: “Bay Area Professional Writers Guild Recognizes with Gratitude STEVE TRAIMAN For Dedicated Leadership as President” I’ll give it to him at the meeting on Monday. Thank you for the push I needed today!

  6. Sometimes we think of kindnesses we could do, and let the moment pass. I want to let you know that this post caused me to do something I’d thought of so many times! I’m a member of the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild here in the Tampa Bay area and have been since the 80s–even served as president in 1992. Back then they used to give the outgoing pres. a plaque “for dedicated leadership.” They stopped doing it years ago. Our current president has held that office for several years! Calls himself “president for life,” and gets very little recognition for all he does. Does this man deserve a plaque? You bet! I went to the trophy store today with my old plaque and ordered one made. Here’s what it says: “Bay Area Professional Writers Guild Recognizes with Gratitude STEVE TRAIMAN For Dedicated Leadership as President” I’ll give it to him at the meeting on Monday. Thank you for the push I needed today!

  7. I wish I had the opportunity to tell my paternal grandmother how much I appreciated her. She died 30 years ago when I was just 17; an inexperienced, immature young girl. As I’ve matured I realize how valuable she was back then – how much I could have garnered from her when she was still alive. She was the quintessential grandmother who wore an apron and baked cakes and pies from scratch, rubbed salve all over you when you were sick, played Dominoes and fixed any major problem you thought you had. I appreciate her so much now for the love she showed, the selflessness, and the eagerness to make me happy. I wish I could have known just how valuable she really was when I was 17, and had a chance to tell her how much I truly loved her.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s