*Thanks to my friend Kenton Adler (AKA Ken Doll) for utilizing his wit while writing this heartfelt post for Day 7 of the Dear Gratitude project this November.*
Thank you. Thank you VERY much. I am not kidding. I am so thankful for women; it’s kind of ridiculous.
Obviously, my mother was a woman. I thank her for my very existence. That’s a given I guess. I also thank her for exposing me to so many things, like the car trip with her and my dad to South Dakota the summer between second and third grade in 1964. I got to see the Great Plains, Dinosaur Park, Mt. Rushmore, and then we went down through Wyoming and Colorado where I saw the Rockies, a volcano in New Mexico, and a different kind of desolation in north Texas. I thank her for the trip to New York City around my 13th birthday, when we went up in the Empire State building, and later I got a copy of “Yellow Submarine.” I thank her for letting me sit in the kitchen and play the latest Beatles song I’d learned on guitar while she cooked dinner after a long day at work. I’m thankful for the spring car trip with her and my brother in 1974 when we drove all over New Mexico and down to El Paso and Juarez. My whole life she took me to parties with artists and crafts people from around the world. She taught me manners, which I occasionally use, and a thing or two about good taste. I thank her for putting me up on trips to Dallas in the early 1980s when she was living there. Later in the ‘80s she sent me an airline ticket to San Francisco that accompanied tickets to the San Francisco Opera to see all four nights of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” in one week. She could be a little bit annoying at times because she liked to have everything her way, but overall she introduced me to a lot of remarkable things that a lot of other people I knew never experienced as I did growing up. I thank her for talking frankly with me about her terminal cancer when I was taking a class on death and dying in 1986. She died at the age of 52 in 1988. I’m nearly 58 now, and that weirds me out a little bit.
I’m thankful for my grandmother, Mam Ma Deaton. She was my mom’s mom, and she taught me how to drink coffee. We would often be the first ones up when I stayed at her house sometimes on weekends. She was raised a farm girl and got up real early. My coffee was mostly milk and sugar, with just enough coffee to turn it a little brown. She would play country gospel on the radio, or sometimes sing herself as she fried sausage or bacon, or made eggs for breakfast. She gave me my early love for harmony and fried food. I’m also thankful for her teaching me about gardening by handing me a little shovel and letting me work with her in the dirt while she planted flowers and vegetables. She let me go off and play in the woods down the street from her house, and she would hand me a hatchet and let me chop on an old stump on the side of the house until I was worn out. Sometimes she would make me get a switch and would put a few welts on my calves. I usually deserved it, and it made me a terrific dancer. I thank her for nickels to take up to Mrs. Walker’s store, for MANY stories and songs and for unconditional love for the short time I knew her. She died at the age of 60 in 1967.
I want to say thank you for every single girl I ever loved. From kindergarten on, I always loved somebody. I never really bought the whole, “Girls have Cooties,” thing. Thanks to the little girl across the street who let me kiss her, even though my baseball cap kept whacking her in the forehead. Thanks to the girl in third grade who didn’t die of embarrassment when I wrote a song about her and got the local radio station to record it and play it on the air. She let me kiss her by the apartments up the street. Thank you to the little girl who liked me when we moved to Colorado, and let me walk her home from school and tell her about Batman and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. with my funny Arkansas accent. I never did get to kiss her, and that bothers me a little, but I did sing songs to her over the phone. I am thankful for my high school girlfriend who was a great kisser. I’m even grateful for the girls who didn’t love me back, for whatever reason. All of those I wrote love notes to that didn’t get answered, or those who already had a date to the dance, those who had to wash their hair on nights when they could have gone out with me, or those who met someone else and went away. I learned something from every one of them. Or at the very least had the pleasure of seeing them and appreciating whatever the beautiful thing about them was that fascinated me in the first place. Thank you to every girl who ever kissed me in a car, or her front porch, or on the couch, in the middle of a bridge, on a mountain pass, or out in the woods by the river, or wherever else we might have had a romantic moment or two. To every woman who ever inspired a poem or a song to work its way out of me, whether happy or sad, I thank you.
I spent a year in 1978 and 1979 living on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There were no women there except for an occasional visitor. I’m thankful for the singer from a USO band that had to stay over an extra night because of a mechanical problem on the transport plane. She talked to me for over an hour at the radio station, just sitting on the floor in the hall outside the studio. It was my birthday. I’m also thankful for the governor’s administrative assistant on another island off the coast of Indonesia. She was Australian, looked a bit like Olivia Newton John with dark hair, and even though she didn’t drag me off in the bushes, she told her friend that she wanted to. That was quite a nice compliment. Not being around women most of the time was really strange. Not just because of the obvious, but because there was no feminine influence of any kind out there. It made me appreciate even more the softness, or the different kind of strength, the emotion, and the nice smells that women bring to the table. Thanks for the nice smell that T.J. brought to the table after I got back to the U.S. and was out at a bar one night with my buddies. She smelled really great. It got to where I could find something wonderful about just about every woman met after that year. Thanks to every woman who never realized that I appreciated some aspect of her being and just WAS. Like the beautiful blonde girl on The Tube in London in 1989 who smiled at me when I gave up my seat to an older woman carrying shopping bags. That girl validated what my mother had taught me.
Thank you especially to my beautiful, brilliant and talented wife who finally found me when I was about 48 and eventually agreed to marry me and be around all the time. I enjoy looking at her pretty face, appreciate her wit, and relish her excellent ideas which inspire me to try harder to do cool things. I enjoy her cooking, and her musical talent, and I am extremely thankful for her skills as a grammarian and editor. She’s the world’s greatest traveling companion and musigator. She’s off right now getting an advanced degree, and I will be thankful when she comes home and is able to keep me in the manner to which I would like to become accustomed.
I could go on all day. I’ve known hundreds, or more likely thousands of women over the years. Some friends, some fellow students, some co-workers, some bosses, some relatives, and finally one who is my wife. I am thankful for every single one of you and what you brought to enrich my life.