The first time I visited Stephen’s Grandad, he did something that caught my attention. Little did I know at the time that this question is tradition. It happens when we sit down to a beautifully prepared supper at he and Grandma Jean’s table. He clears his raspy throat, looks with his big soft aged eyes at one or more of us, and asks quite honestly, “Everyone grateful?” There’s slowness to his words, a rhythm and song to the way they come off his tongue.
I’m mesmerized. Not sure of what everyone else does, I eagerly respond.
There is a rush that comes over me. I’m fervent to participate in something that feels extraordinary. I want to take it all in quickly...it feels fleeting. Like a kindergartner that thinks she has the right answer I blurt out, “Yes!” As juvenile as I come off, my heart is so refreshed by the gesture of a simple question. I'm so excited to be a part.
When pressed further he quotes Cicero. “Gratitude is the greatest of all virtues and the parent of all others.” Simply put, you can’t love without gratitude.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I might have a crush on Grandad. The beauty in that is Stephen in many ways will be just like him at the handsome age of 90. Quick with humor, slow to anger, continuing to push buttons in his charming way, active, social, and that voice...it is Stephen’s..just a little more worn.
This post is an introduction to something I’ve learned from this uncomplicated question, and something that has been a theme over the years. Starting back in my family’s home in Seattle, there was a quote in the kitchen: Proverbs 15:15, “…for the happy heart, there is a continual feast.” Appropriate for the kitchen and the dinner table. A “happy" heart. Other versions use the word “grateful." It’s a picturesque reminder of an inner condition. I love food, and a feast sounds utterly delightful! Remembering to take time to be grateful, finding my heart in a happy place is a wise tradition.
So in the spirit of gratitude and having a happy heart that appreciates all the many beauties in life, I’m dedicating every other Friday to A Happy Heart. My desire is to share and give honor to someone I am grateful for.
I’m not sure how long or short they will be, but I will practice. There are so many people to say thank you too. For encouragement along the way, for their example, for laughter, and so much more.
What a wonderful thing to take time to tell people you are grateful for them. So Granddad, I am grateful for you. You have lived your life honestly. Through the good and bad, you have sought to do right and love people well. Thank you for your example and for welcoming me into your beautiful family. I love you.
Grandad and Grandma Jean at our Wedding.
until next time