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
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 as 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 not 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?