For one, let me say that I am very happy to be living in Norwalk, once again, after having moved back to the Maple City from southwest Ohio (the greater Cincinnati region) in August of 2014, where I lived and had a very exciting, productive and interesting career for 15 years. I moved back to Norwalk to essentially look after and take care of my elderly father who was living unassisted in his own home after my mother passed away the year before. My father passed away in August of this year, after living nearly six months at Gaymont Nursing Home right here in Norwalk. I am grateful to Gaymont for taking such good care of my dad during those last six months of his life, and me as well.
I am also grateful that I am a fairly active member of my church, The Chapel, in Norwalk. I have attended several churches in my lifetime, but none of them came close to being, meeting or fulfilling my expectations of what I wanted my spiritual experience to be in an organized environment week after week like what The Chapel is doing. Attending services on Sunday mornings no longer feels like an obligation to me, but is something that I look forward to each week, and that I truly enjoy participating in and being a part of.
I am grateful that I have access to clean water, an abundant and healthy food supply and air that is not contaminated with chemicals and industrial pollutants like in so many other parts of the country or the world for that matter. These are things that I used to take for granted, but no more. And, after hearing and reading about the numerous hurricanes and floods that have devastated much of the American gulf coast and Puerto Rico, as well as the devastating wildfires that are inflicting so much pain and suffering on the people who live in California, I have come to appreciate all of my blessings that come from simply having good geography.
I am grateful that I am fairly healthy and live a life free of any sort of physical or chemical dependency, with my drug of choice being Pepsi, which I have tried unsuccessfully to give up by the way. And even though I now have my daily aches and pains, they are nothing that I can not live with and have indeed been living with for some time now, though I do wish that they would go away somehow.
I am grateful that I live in a part of the country that has easy access to so many recreational activities and opportunities, with four seasons to enjoy them in. Even though I do not like winter as much as I do summer and spring, and even fall, winter does have its own beauty and purpose for sure. I definitely know that I love spring and summer to the degree that I do because of our dark winters. But to me, winter is a time of reflection, a time to slow down a bit, a time of planning ahead and looking forward to another exciting year that typically includes visiting and spending quality time with special friends across the USA and/or overseas.
And I am extremely grateful of the fact that I have a huge family that loves, appreciates and cares about me, which is vitally important to me. This huge family includes not only traditional family members and relatives of course, but an empire of friends who live across the USA and around the world. This is one of my greatest blessings. They all collectively bring so much joy and happiness to my life.
I am very grateful that I live in a country where I can be free to be the person I want and choose to be, to worship openly and freely whenever I need and want to do so, and to express my opinions without fear of imprisonment or persecution. But most importantly, I am grateful that I have a God who loves me unconditionally and takes such good care of me. I have always believed that God, Jesus and our Holy Mother have my back so to speak. And I am forever grateful.
Gary Richards is a Norwalk resident.