Thankful

My heart is full after a very special Veteran’s day.  I’m ashamed to say that many years I did not think about this holiday as much as I should have.  I have not had a lot of experience or connections with veterans until recently when I started serving dinner and doing dishes at a local assisted living facility a few nights a week.  I’ve been serving several veterans their mashed potatoes and filling their coffees and getting to know them.  I see the pictures on their bulletin boards outside their bedroom doors, pictures of them on ships, in uniform, decades younger and on the brink of life.  They’ve shown me their treasures and knick knacks of supreme sentimental value.  I wanted to to do something special as a family to help us recognize these often forgotten heroes who have served us.

 
 So, I got to work with my finger paint and my kids.  We came up with these bald eagle paintings…
Using a foot stamp and couple hand stamps and some simple words of thanks…
And with some smiles, on the evening of Veteran’s Day we headed over to hand deliver them.  
Some we posted on bulletin boards…
Some we hand delivered.  
Because of privacy rules I couldn’t take more pictures of them, but in total we handed out 15 Thank Yous, shaking their hands and listening to the stories of those who wished to share them.  We met people who served in Vietnam and Japan, through the Navy, Air Force and the Army.  It was truly incredible to see them smile.  These people who don’t often have visitors and have a very simple, repetitive, daily routine were alive again with gratitude themselves by getting a simple “Thank You” from us.
 When one man told us he had also served as a police officer in Ogden for 45 years we told him how Michael wants to be one when he grows up.  He then invited us to his room to see a beautiful framed display of items from his time with the force.

 There was a gun tie clip that Michael especially liked, old-fashioned hand-cuffs, paperwork from when he worked for the FBI, his badges and more.  I love how beneath it he had taped the flier recognizing and expressing thanks to all the veterans at the home.  He had circled his name.

Before we left he told Sophia that she was beautiful and to remember that.  He told Michael that being a police officer was hard work and had done a number to his knees, but he had a lot of adventures too.  When Michael asked if he was “the boss” he told him he was the assistant to the chief so he did get to boss some people around.  It was so fun and surreal imagining him in the city we live in now, decades ago…
Although tomorrow will be my last day working at this great place (due to physical pain from the labor involved) I’m so glad I had the opportunity to be here.  I’ve made friends I plan on keeping.  Walking those halls keeps things in perspective.  I’ve heard people express that they never thought they would end up “somewhere like this.”  I’ve seen their faces light up when they’ve seen my children and heard them say “they are precious.”  When we jokingly answered “most of the time” they said “ALL of the time.  Treasure them every day.”     
I do more now.  I treasure the nights I get to be home now and tuck in my kids, even if it means several times on the nights they won’t stay in bed.  I’m more thankful for legs that walk, eyes that see, teeth that can chew, and a mind that can remember.  
With the help of caregivers the residents created this Gratitude Tree…
Life.  Family.  Friends.  Freedom.  This is what these wise, almost century-old in some cases, people are grateful for.  And I am too.
Love, Eva