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Plenty to be thankful for this year

There’s a lot we’re thankful for in my house this year and I think that’s probably true throughout the county.

The thing about being thankful is that even when times are difficult it’s possible to find things to be grateful for over the year. I have some Facebook friends who are taking the month of November to do what they call a “Gratitude Journal.”

What a great idea. So many times we read about bad things or see terrible stories on the news. But sometimes it’s heartwarming to read the things that other people are grateful for and realize that there is a lot around us that is good.

So, though I’ll try not to get maudlin, here are some of the things that I’ve been happy about this year.

We got some wonderful news this past week about my father-in-law Carl Norman. Earlier this year, doctors discovered that Carl had a rare cancer in his appendix and had to remove it. He’s been struggling through chemotherapy. Carl has always been a big guy, in fact his nickname has always been Big Carl.

But the chemo really hit him hard and he lost a lot of weight and became pretty frail to the point where he had trouble walking. It’s been difficult for him to cope with and for all of us to see.

But the chemo was worth it. Last week he got scanned and he is cancer free. Just looking at the change those two words – cancer free – had on his demeanor has been incredible. His humor is back, he’s gaining weight — and speaking of weight, it’s like one has been removed from our shoulders.

I’m of course thankful for my family. They are my joy and Kelley and I are so proud of them. Sara Beth and Dylan are working in the school system teaching English and biology and doing a great job and it’s so special to work with two of my children. You can’t imagine.

Spencer is a senior at the University of Florida in public relations and quite a character. Saturday he managed to walk out on the field at the Gator football game by attaching himself to the marching band. One of our friends, Kim Wells Keck, was a majorette when she was at Florida and her husband Paul heads up the drum line. Kim was on the field on alumni day and Paul was busy so Spencer volunteered to watch their young son Taiko. When they all went on the field, Spencer and Taiko followed. He figured, hey, why not? You’d have to know Spencer.

We have a wedding in our future that is taking up a lot of Kelley’s time and effort. Sara Beth is getting married to Aaron Summers in the spring. It’s been very eye-opening for me. Planning a wedding takes the same logistics and planning as a military campaign. There’s the place, the DJ, the caterer, the photographer all of which have to be booked months in advance. I do my best to just stay out of the way. That’s good advice I can give to any dad.

We have a new pet.

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