I have long since realized that I am a creature of habit. I tend to do many things in life in the same habitual way every day. When I shower, the first thing I do is wash my hair and the last thing I do is to shave - always in that order. When I put my shoes on I always put my left shoe on first followed by the right before tying them both. I always push the cereal down in the milk with my spoon before I can eat it (I don't like dry cereal). When I browse through magazines, I always start at the back and flip forward through the pages. You get the idea.
Anyway, the last several months I have found myself picking up one more curious habit. Before I start work each day I like to look through the local obituaries. I'm not sure why I do this. Maybe I've just reached the point in life where it isn't uncommon for people my age to die and I want to see who I've outlived. Whatever the reason, it has given me cause to pause and reflect over my life. Sometimes this process can be a very sobering experience as I have made many mistakes over the years. Occasionally I'm left feeling a bit embarrassed if not ashamed at some of the stupid things I've done during my life. However, more often than not, I am left feeling incredibly grateful for many things I've experienced over the last 43 years.
I am so grateful for my children. Regretfully my marriage to their mother didn't work out like I had planned, but I would make the same mistakes all over again to ensure my boys would be a part of my life. My children aren't perfect and neither am I, but I am constantly inspired by them as I watch them develop talents I could only dream of when I was their age. They have had many challenges to overcome even at this early stage in their lives and yet they have had the courage the deal with them. I love them so much for that. I hope they will always remember the God-given strengths they each possess and use them to bless the lives of others. I couldn't have asked for anyone better to call my sons.
I haven't quite figured it out yet, but for some reason God has blessed me with the most wonderful companion I ever could have hoped for. My sweet wife. I love her so much. She has helped me to keep a spark of hope alive in my heart when I had feared it had long since been extinguished. She has an innate ability to accept and love people for who they are. If only I could be half as good as she is! And with my wife comes two great stepchildren. They are amazing. They have had to share their mother with me and I know that is not an easy thing to do and they have accepted my children as their brothers. I have much to learn from them by way of acceptance.
Most people in general love their parents. I am no different. I have great parents. They have always taught me and my siblings what is right and they have done it by example. I know there have been times when I have disappointed them in the decisions I have made but I always knew they loved me regardless. I will always love them for giving me the chance to spread my wings and grow from life's experiences. We were never really a hugging family growing up and we siblings despised each other at times but today we all love each other and support each other. I really have a great family!
As I read over what I have written I have noticed it is beginning to sound like a farewell of sorts. That is not my intention. This is merely one of those count-your-blessings moments. Everything I have that brings me happiness comes from those people whom God has placed around me. He has allowed me to have a loving wife and children and live in an area that looks like it came straight off a post card. I will always be grateful to Him for that.
Anyway, as I have read many obituaries over the last few years I have come to realize that we never really know when its time to leave this existence to start another. More importantly, I have learned to be grateful for all that I have even though I probably don't deserve most of what I have been blessed with. Hopefully I can always remember that and maybe with Thanksgiving on the near horizon, you can too.