Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving and Missing Joan

Joan Bochmann by the Madison River, Montana

Joan's favorite season was autumn, her favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Many of my best memories are of times spent with Joan in the outdoors. I can't remember for sure when the above picture was taken, but I do remember the peace and joy of that late-fall day when we hiked along the Madison River up the Bear Trap trail near my home in Montana.

This is our first Thanksgiving without Joan and we miss her. Yet she would not want us to be grieving. She'd want us to spend the day feeling and giving thanks. I will always remember her last Thanksgiving and how blessed I felt to be invited to spend it with Joan and her beautiful family—her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. The day was filled with love, peace, and gratitude. 

 This year, I came back to Colorado at the invitation of Joan's daughter, Debbie, whom I love with all my heart, to spend Thanksgiving, Joan's favorite holiday with her and her family. Now that I am here, staying in Joan's house, I ask myself, why am I here and what do I need to do for Joan's family, for myself, for honoring Joan's life ,and celebrating her memory? I'm searching for the answer to that question.

One thing I do know is that Joan would want us to be thankful, so in her honor, I'll live this day in gratitude for the love she has shown me all my life. Today, for Joan, I will replace the sorrow that she isn't here with gratitude for the times we had together and gratitude for her family and the love they continue to show me.

To understand what a good person Joan was, one can look at her daughter and her son. I am in awe of their wisdom, integrity, compassion, and honesty. The trait I most admire and look for in people is their ability to be genuine and guileless. That describes both Debbie and Gary—and their spouses. They are conscientious and trustworthy with strong moral ethics. I'd do anything for them, as they have done so much for me. I am thankful to have them in my life.

When Joan and I were children, we often made lists of things we were thankful for by using each of the letters of a word. So here is my thankful list for the attributes and memories that Joan modeled for us—one for each letter in THANKSGIVING.

T is for truth that Joan believed in and truthfulness, a characteristic that she passed on to her children. 

H is for honesty and fairness.

A is for the awe and appreciation that she had for life and creation.

N is for noticing—Joan's awareness of the people and things around her.

K is for knowledge. Joan loved learning. It is also for kindness that she showed especially to children and to animals.

S is for salvation. Joan had a strong belief in God and a love for her Savior, beliefs that gave her hope and sustained her through the agony of losing her health to cancer.

G is for gratitude. Joan was grateful for all she had and for the people in her life.

I is for imagination and ideas and insight, traits that made her a wonderful writer.

V is for value. Joan knew the value of the people in her life. She valued people, nature, animals far more than material things.

I is for inspiration that she gained through reading books and observing life and that she passed on through her writing.

N is for nature and Joan's appreciation of it.

G is for grace. The grace with which Joan lived. The saving grace that she believed in. Her church, Grace Place, and the wonderful support her very gracious and giving friends gave her.

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