Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Insight: Thoughts about personal gratitude

Olivia Carpenter, left, with her new baby brother,
Leon Thomas Carpenter, who was born Nov. 9
and weighed 3 pounds, 14 ounces at birth.
By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, which is a quality that continues to inspire many during the annual holiday season.

Early on, my parents taught me that Thanksgiving Day is about more than gathering with relatives, sharing a bountiful meal and laying in front of the television watching football.

To me, Thanksgiving affirms all the good things that have happened over the course of the past year and to recognize the roles that others contribute to providing goodness in my life.

Without further fanfare, here’s my list of things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving Day:

First, a miracle occurred just two weeks ago when Leon Thomas Carpenter was born in Danbury, Connecticut. After his mother was in and out of the hospital in the later stages of pregnancy this summer and into the fall, Leon made his debut as Grandchild #3 weighing in at 3 pounds, 14 ounces on Nov. 9.

After gaining a little weight in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where he had been since birth on a tiny breathing machine, Leon was sent home from the hospital last week where he joined his parents, Chuckie and Casie, and big brother Joseph, and big sister Olivia.

The fact that babies weighing so little can make it is simply a testament to the indomitable will to survive and to the medical staff’s skill and expertise in delivering a child so small.

Therefore, I’m grateful that our third grandchild has arrived and is gaining strength and weight with each passing day.

Second, to even be a grandfather for me personally is something truly remarkable. After being single for 14 years and rapidly approaching 50, an internet date at a Friendly’s Restaurant in Florida changed my life forever in 2004.

An elementary school teacher answered an ad that I had placed on a dating website, and we agreed to meet over a bowl of ice cream on a weeknight in May. The fact that she even chose to reply was nothing less than a miracle as I did not have a photo posted with the ad and it only listed the city I lived in, my gender, and my age.

But fate has a funny way of working it out sometimes. That date turned out to be the best one I ever had, and we mutually agreed to see each other again the following week. After several long phone conversations, she informed me that she was going to undergo cancer surgery and I probably wouldn’t want to date her as a result.

But being a cancer survivor myself, I was compelled to share my experience with her and to help her through the process of chemotherapy and radiation. Slowly she got better following the surgery and by Christmas, she came to stay for the holidays and never went home.

We were married in Cleveland, Ohio in June 2005 as she attended her youngest son’s high school graduation and suddenly at the age of 51, I found myself as the stepfather of three grown young men all at or near their 20s.

I’ve watched as these three young men have embarked upon careers, moved into new homes and now in oldest stepson Chuckie’s case, have begun to raise a family.

And to think it all started with meeting a person I didn’t know previously answering an internet dating website ad almost two decades ago. If you think that’s not something to be grateful for, you are wrong.

The life of a journalist since 2004 has taken me from working for a daily newspaper to an online newspaper startup to working for a weekly paper in Florida, then a move north from Florida to a daily newspaper in New Hampshire and eventually moving again to Maine for work at a daily paper in Biddeford, retirement, and then coming out of retirement to work for a weekly paper again in Windham, Maine.

My family has seen my career go from a news reporter, copy editor and sportswriter to community sports editor, managing editor, executive editor and now Managing Editor of The Windham Eagle. And the one constant during all of that transition has been my wife, Nancy, and my three stepsons, Chuckie, Brian and Danny Carpenter.

My life has been fuller because they are in it and now in my role as “Grandpa Ed,” yet another chapter has dawned for me. Therefore, I’m grateful Nancy took the time to answer my internet ad because it made my life complete and a new world opened as I experienced what it is like to be a parent and now, a grandparent.

Lastly, this Thanksgiving I’m also grateful to have reconnected with so many of my high school classmates and friends at our Rush-Henrietta High School 50th Class of 1971 Reunion in Rochester, New York during the weekend of Oct. 29.

I was able to tell classmates I have known for 55 years or more how much of a difference they made in my life and how much I continue to treasure their friendship and encouragement despite the passing of five decades.

It’s said that in daily life, we seldom realize that we receive more than we give and that through gratitude we discover that our lives are richly blessed. In my case, it’s so true. <

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