I am grateful to Anne for showing me how to live big.
My sister has a beautiful name – Jennifer Leigh Williams. But all my life I have known her as Boody. This came from the nickname my grandmother gave her – Jenny-Boo. This name evolved into Boo and then Boody or Booty or Bootie. In her adult life, people call her Jennifer or Jen, and I do, too when I am in public with her, but it feels strange. Yet I am a little embarrassed for her when I introduce her as Boody. Maybe I should introduce her as Boo, which sounds a little more dignified.
I am grateful for Boody because she has a huge heart and she is courageous. She has endured so much hurt in this life and yet she keeps smiling, she keeps giving her love, she keeps shining her friendliness and good will on others. I cannot help but admire her and learn from her for that.
She is also courageous. She learned how to sail in a YMCA pool and then went on to get her captain’s license and work for Hinckley Yacht Company sailing boats from Maine to the Caribbean and back. She got her scuba certification and went diving. she learned to fly. She believed in herself enough to go to law school and run for political office. She learned to ride motorcycles and became a motorcycle safety instructor. She taught herself how to become a beekeeper and keeps hives full of bees and honey. There are probably a zillion more things she does that I don’t even know about.
My Mother was a complicated woman. She was a free spirit who valued things differently than most people. I am grateful to her because she showed us how to stop and smell the flowers. She taught us how to live without binding ourselves up in society’s invisible rules. She did
pretty much what she wanted to do without worrying too much how it affected other people. She seldom said things like: No, that won’t work, that will be too messy, you can’t do that, you’ll never accomplish that. Therefore she gave me the mindset that anything is possible. That attitude, along with the out-of-the-box kind of thinking my father gave me, has led me to try and accomplish so many things in my life. I am forever grateful for that.
The start of a new year. Every new year’s day I take a moment to look back at all the things that happened in the previous year. There are always lots of new people who have entered my life and some that have left. There are new things I’ve learned and new places I’ve visited. Life never stops giving us surprises and gifts. This year I want to make it a year of gratitude, giving thanks for some of those gifts along the way.
I am thankful for my father, Leonard John Williams. He was born in 1925 and as a man of that generation, he worked hard to make sure his family had everything they needed. I know now that some of the time things did not go well for him and he probably worried about how things would turn out, but he never burdened us with that.
As a boy he and his brothers published a neighborhood newspaper called the Thornapple Street News in Chevy Chase, MD. He saved copies of what seemed like most of the papers in a cardboard box and sometimes we enjoyed reading the simple, uncomplicated news about lost dogs, new bikes, and other neighborhood goings-on. He was a great skeet shooter, shooting from the hip. We had some 35 MM celluloid film that showed him and his brothers blasting away at clay pigeons and hitting most of them. In high school he was president of his class and participated in the Young Democrats. He left high school before graduation to join the Navy and enter WWII. When he returned he finished college at Harvard and then Law School at George Washington University.
He met my mom, who I think, was not someone my grandmother was crazy about. She was a free spirit, but he loved her dearly until the day he died.
From a child’s perspective, he led a busy life of work. He left for the office each day in a suit and returned in time for dinner. People respected him and came to him for advice about law, politics, and life. He had an incredible work ethic. And yet he was able to look at problems and think cretively about their solutions.
He gave me and my siblings a safe, comfortable life. He provided us with a wonderful home in a safe neighborhood. He put food on the table and clothes on our bodies. He paid for us to go to good schools and be members of a country club. The schools and the club shaped our lives and minds more than anything else. The people we met, the sports, and the studies have had a tremendous effect on my life.
My dad was a loving dad. He was always gentle, but firm. He always told me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me. I never doubted that. He was patient and tolerant as I followed some hair-brained ideas. He was honest when I asked his opinion.
Watching him die was hard, wrenching. I hope he has found peace and happiness in another place, wahtever that might be. He lived a good life here and he deserves to rest and be joyful for all his hard work.
This year I plan to blog about my gratitude for all the incredible things in my life. From family to teachers to friends to pets to opportunities to lessons learned to the magical beauty of this world – there is so much to be grateful for. Four hours to go until the New Year.
This blog was started in 2010 as a test for blogging used in my teaching job. I switched to another blog titled Tech Onion. The address is techonion.wordpress.com