Giving thanks for blessings (both obvious and not-so-obvious)

By Senior Airman Susan L. Davis

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs, D.C.

We have a Thanksgiving tradition in my family that many families probably share—before we dig into the turkey and stuffing and all the other fixins associated with the holiday, we go around the table and each person shares something that they’re thankful for.

It can be funny or sweet or poignant, but it should always make you really take a step back and think, and be truly grateful. Everyone has something to be thankful for.

So here is why I am thankful at Thanksgiving this year:

Anyone on this installation who knows me on a personal or professional level knows that I have had a very rough year.

Without giving too much away, my marriage to my first husband ended (badly) after nearly five years, to the day. This situation also presented some other major complications of its own, leaving me a single mother of two to deal with the mess. I also lost my father and my grandmother only two months apart from each other this summer.

I am not thankful for these events in and of themselves, but rather for the doors they opened for me, and for the wingmanship I was shown during these tough times.

After my children’s father left, it forced me to become more self-sufficient, and more aware of my place in my home and in my children’s lives, and it’s made me a better mom.

As my home and my family seemed to be unraveling before me, my larger family stepped in to offer help—my Air Force family. My first sergeant and my supervisor gave me time away from work to take care of personal matters that now demanded my full attention; my friends, neighbors, co-workers and senior leaders offered me understanding and support in the face of the challenges I was up against; the Air Force offered me resources to help me support and care for my family. For all of this, I am truly thankful.

Losing my first husband opened the door for me to meet my new husband, who is one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever received in my entire life. He has shown me the real meaning of maturity, love, respect, admiration, loyalty and commitment.

Losing my father on the weekend of July 4th, and my grandmother just two months later, gave me a new perspective on mortality, and to not squander the time and opportunities we’re given in life. I think of him and talk about him almost every day. It’s made me appreciate my mother a little more now that she is my only surviving parent. I’m trying to make an effort to call more often, because as the sudden loss of my dad showed me, you never know when your last phone call to your loved ones… may be your last phone call to your loved ones.

Once again, when my options were limited and it seemed I was running out of time, the Air Force stepped in to offer another way.

I was able to make it home to San Antonio in time to say goodbye to my dad, and I’m thankful for that.

You could say that I have faced trial by fire over the course of the past year, but I am thankful for all of the opportunities for personal growth and maturity I’ve experienced through it all. I believe it has made me a better Airman, wife, mother, daughter and friend.

Take stock of the events that have happened in your life, and whether they’ve made you a better person. Be thankful for all of your blessings—even the ones that come in disguise.

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