CLARENCE'S THANKS LIST
First, I would like to give thanks that Becky still has the desire, the motivation, and the strength to attempt this gathering every year. There must be times when it is hard to continue trying. I heard via the family grapevine that she had reached the frustration, saturation point at least once and blurted out an expletive which expressed that frustration. Believe me Sis, I do understand. For whatever contribution my own failure to participate in other gatherings has added to her frustration, I hope that she can find it in her heart to forgive.
Our family has changed and I know that it will continue to mutate and adapt out of necessary reaction to life's increasing pressures. It is all but impossible to sustain the past in our changing times. However, Becky, allow me to reassure you, your efforts are not unappreciated. Because of you, I know that every one of us has stored away some cherished memories from each of those gatherings.
I would speak a few words of encouragement to the younger members of our family. Don't become discouraged if future efforts to call this family together fail. We older members have deeper roots, which span the passing years and sustain us. The time will come when you will begin your own family traditions. They may reflect what you have seen demonstrated here, but no doubt they will be different. It's alright to want your own traditions. They are always worth whatever effort you exert toward their success. Life is and has always been a matter of making choices. You will make some wrong ones and in some way pay for the mistakes. We have all been guilty of missing a family gathering for whatever reason, and it has been our loss. I speak from experience. I have known regret for some of my decisions, but I am a much wiser person because of my mistakes.
I am thankful for my sister, Frances. Because of her many examples, I am a different person. She is the oldest and the wisest. She has learned the lessons of life well. If you ask her for advise, She may or may not give it, but believe me, she knows the answers to many of life's perplexing problems. She would wax humble if you implied that fact to her face. So instead of asking, just watch her live life and as much as possible, pattern your own after hers. I will not try to convince anyone that she has reached perfection in her Christian life, but where she is, I hope to be some day. So today, I would give her this bouquet. "Thank You" for your example.
There are many "Standout" individuals in our family, each one with something special they could share with us if they only would. For some reason they remain silent and what they have learned from life will die with them. I plead with you to share. Perhaps you are restrained with low self esteem. You ask, "Who would want to hear what I have to say about life". I would!!, and I'm sure there are others. Don't hold back because you believe you are not eloquent enough in your speech. Write the words down if you can't say them. Take the time to know yourself, honestly, and then share with others. It will help you and it will help those you share with.
If I have learned anything from life, it is this. It is the words you don't say which you will regret the most. I'm not talking about venting your anger and spouting, spiteful hurting words toward those who may have wronged you. Those kind of words are always with us. They seem more easily expressed and those who said them will explain that they feel better for having said them, but believe me, it will only be a temporary relief.
The words I speak of will not cause harm. They express thankfulness to others, they express love and compassion. They lift up and strengthen and they last for eternity, never forgotten.
The list of things for which I am thankful is endless. If I have not mentioned your name, please don't feel slighted. Our time and your patience restrain me from going on and on and on. If I live long enough, I'm sure I will get around to each one of you eventually. There will be other occasions, other get togethers, other opportunities, and who knows, next time, you may have something you want to say and I will be "All ears" as I have been all my life.
Thank you for listening.