Monday, July 20, 2009

An Early Thanksgiving

In 1939 Lou Gehrig gave his goodbye speech at Yankee Stadium. He declared himself "the luckiest man on the face of this earth. " Two years later Gehrig succumbed to ALS. 46 years later so did my grandfather.

I've been told, more than once, by more than one person, that my characteristics skipped a generation, because I am my grandfather. When he passed away, I was only 13 (are you doing the math :) so I really didn't know him as well as I would have liked to, so I have to take their word for it. I'm honored, actually, that the people who knew him the best would tell me that. While not everyone liked my grandpa, he was very well respected. He went through a lot of hardships and never gave up. He died a very successful man. He stood up for what he believed in, and most of all, he enjoyed life.

He sure loved his cars. I guess my version is the hay-eating variety of transportation :) By the way this picture was taken in front of St. John Grade School. Do you know how I know? Because it hasn't changed a single bit. The sign looks exactly the same today.

My grandfather also was the one who taught us that you never own an animal you cannot take care of.

This is my dad, when he was three, with a dwarf calf. I LOVE this picture. He hates it. Probably because he looks sooooo cute! My dad doesn't do cute. My dad has steely gray eyes.

They are actually blue, like mine. He got them from his dad, who got them from his dad, who got them from his dad who got them from his dad. I haven't been able to go back any further than my great-great-great grandfather George H McCandless, whose Civil War records mention he had blue eyes.
George's dad, John McCandless, died suddenly when he was only 45, leaving George, at the ripe old age of 13 to take care of his family, including his mother who probably didn't even know yet she was pregnant with their last child when John died--she had Elizabeth Temperance 9 months later.

"Whenever you pass by the field where you have laid your ancestors look well there-upon, and you shall see yourselves and your children dancing hand in hand."

While researching our family history a few years ago, I was amazed at how the life stories of our ancestors came together, weaving a rich fabric of life. While they didn't leave their memoirs, their journeys told tales of hardships, perseverance, and the importance of friends and family. All in all, these people wanted one thing: to live a good life.

They succeeded.

Their collective legacy is an inspiration which, along with my amazing and courageous friend Kim, teach me to be thankful for the things in my life that truly matter.

I am thankful for those with whom I am honored to share my life.

I am thankful for those who are still with me.

I am thankful for the places I've been....

and the people I've met.

I'm thankful for friends...

And family.

I'm thankful that I'm not truly want for anything, or as Kim better puts it, "Don't sweat the small stuff."

Because when it comes to the things in life that really matter, somehow I won the lottery. I truly have the life I wanted. On top of that, I have so many incredible friends, who surround me with love and support.

Thank you. And I love you all.


Sydney said...

That is wonderful! I love family history. My great, great, great, great grandfather on my mothers side was the king of England for a number of years. His house is still a museum/monument.

By the way I got the book you sent me in the mail today! Out of all the western horseman books I have I've never once picked up the legends book. It's very interesting to see how the quarterhorse has evolved. Thank you so much =D

Jessie Baker said...

That's really cool! Who was it--one of the Georges? The closest my lineage is that my 5th great grandfather's (John Calvert) brother was given an area in America by the King of England (maybe your ancestor?! :) John Calvert was the one who actually came to America to help organize the area (we're always the worker bees LOL), a place now known as Maryland.

I'm glad you got the book! I mailed my sister's apartment keys to her at the same time and they messed up that delivery. Glad yours got to you! LOL

knoyes said...

Well, I was really enjoying that and thinking how cool it was that you know all of the things about your family and have those pictures and such, really cool. And then "Whammy"!! Caught me off guard. I sure appreciate what you have to say and if I have helped one person see the good in life, well, then I have succeeded.

It strikes me as sad, all of the people that tell us maybe we will get a miracle in this mess right now. They just don't get it, we ARE getting a miracle each day. The only miracle that they can see is the life of Brian, life at the expense of any quality. We are seeing miracles each and every day and enjoying them to the fullest. As we have talked before (and most likely will again) there are many things worse than death. One of them is not being able to see and enjoy the miracles of life.

Thanks for honoring me, my friend.

Love You, Kim

Jessie Baker said...

Thank you, Kim. I have learned so much from you. You are absolutely right--they can't see the miracle that you two have each day and in each other. The fact that you can see it, well, makes you amazing :)

People are so afraid of death that they forget about life, and quality of life. You helped me summon the courage I needed to do the right thing for Empress and I will never forget your words that "Sometimes life isn't more important than death." She got to have a better life those last few days leading up to our appointment than she had in a very long time. It wasn't fair of me to ask her to live in misery. Actually that's no life at all.

I'm so glad that you and Brian are taking advantage of the time you have together. I admire you both so much for having that courage and wisdom to take your heartbreaking situation and turn it into an opportunity to concentrate on the good things in life. You both are an inspiration! :)