Kate is our adoption heroine, this year and every year.
Missy and Dick Lee Flourtown
I am 94 years old and a widower. I have been married for total of 70 years: 55 years to my first wife, who died in 1995, and 15 years to my second wife, who died in 2010. As a man who has been married for so many years to two wonderful women, it was terrifying to me to be suddenly alone. I was lonely and in despair. My children made sure I never had a dinner alone, but I was still so lost.
My daughter Helen and her husband John saw how lonely I was and invited to me come live with them. So, I sold my house in Mount Laurel and built an apartment onto their home in Medford. I felt elated that she thought so much of her Dad that she was willing to put up with me full time!
So what am I thankful for? I am thankful that I am alive and living with my daughter and her husband. I am thankful for my son and his wife who make sure I come to their house for frequent dinners.
I have a new lease on life and I am going to enjoy every minute.
Frank X Ambrose Medford
I am most thankful this year for the birth of my first grandchild. I've waited since my son was married in 2003 to hear the words "You're going to be a grandmom." When I finally heard the words, they were music to my ears! Every time I see my precious grandson, I realize more and more that babies are truly God's greatest miracles. I hope He sends many more miracles my way.
Dot McNulty Norristown
I am thankful to a family I have never met and a person I will never have the pleasure of meeting. This person and his loving family gave our son the gift of life by being an organ donor.
For six months, while my son waited for a liver, we knew that the organ that would save his life would mean devastation for another and their family. This weighed heavily on us.
When the day came when we were called for this liver, we all cried and prayed for the person who so unselfishly gave of himself even at his death.
This Thanksgiving will be bittersweet for our family. We are so grateful that our son is healthy, and we are so thankful to the man who so unselfishly donated his liver to our son. But our sympathies are with the family who will be missing their loved one at their table. Though I know that my words will never ease the pain of their loss and hurt, I need them to know how thankful we are that their loved one gave our son the gift of life. I need them to know that we continue to pray for this man and thank him on a daily basis. I hope they know we will be honoring his life on Thanksgiving and every day.
Mindy Cherry Hill
On December 30, 2010, after a lifetime of no known health issues, I experienced sudden cardiac death. I was Israeli folk dancing in the auditorium at Temple Adath Israel in Lower Merion as I do every Thursday night when my heart stopped and I collapsed in the middle of the floor.
I am thankful that there was an AED device readily available. I am thankful that there were a number of doctors in the room at the time, one of whom performed CPR for 20 minutes until an ambulance arrived. I am thankful that there was a middle school gym teacher available who teaches lifesaving techniques including how to use an AED.
I am thankful for the amazing doctors, staff, and cardiac rehab unit at Lankenau Hospital who treated four major blockages in my arteries and helped me to regain my strength. I am thankful for my wonderful friends, relatives, and family who showed overwhelming kindness, love, and support during my convalescence. I am thankful for having another year to experience life's ups and downs, another birthday, and my 25th wedding anniversary.
Vance DiCristo Havertown
I am very thankful that I still have my wife who survived one of the deadliest forms of cancer (pancreatic cancer) eleven years ago by going through a Whipple operation. This year makes it even more special because she just retired and we have the chance to celebrate our remaining years. I ask for nothing more.
Richard Lau Philadelphia
I was diagnosed with stage l lung cancer in May. Thanks to the following people who pulled me through a nightmarish time and to whom I owe my life:
The doctor who found it early enough to save my life.
The skill of an amazing surgeon. The sympathy and care of the nurses at Abington Hospital. The concern of friends who kept my spirits up with their visits and phone calls, errand-running and wonderful gifts. My husband who tended me day and night. But most of all to my son - thank you for relinquishing your life for two weeks, moving into my home to care for me, and staying by my side throughout a difficult recuperation. You did this cheerfully and gladly, with never a complaint and a sunny disposition and smile for me every day. To you I owe my life.
Marilyn Elias Huntingdon Valley
I intend to celebrate this Thanksgiving with a moist, juicy slice of turkey - something I haven't allowed myself to enjoy since I was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in my liver three years ago.
After that frightening diagnosis, I was determined to do anything that would help me celebrate many future Thanksgivings. To complement traditional medical care, I became a vegan. Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy were banished from my diet; juicing became my new hobby. The last two Thanksgivings were meatless for me. In spite of all my efforts, my liver disease progressed.
I was placed on the liver transplant list in January of this year and was told the wait could be twelve or more months. Meanwhile, I would need MRIs and blood work every three months to see if the cancer had metastasized. If it did, I would no longer be a candidate for a new liver.
The stars aligned (that's the only way I can explain this) and two months later I received the call: "We think we might have a liver for you." The liver was a perfect match!
When I was finally able to eat solid food, what did I crave? Chicken, never a favorite of mine. My fantasy is that my incredibly generous donor must have loved poultry.
What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? I'm blessed with amazing family and friends, who surrounded me with their love and support throughout my illness. The entire medical staff in charge of my transplant was crucial to my remarkable recovery. However, one person, above all, made a phenomenal difference. The extraordinary kindness and generosity of my donor and his family gave me a new liver and a second chance at life. This Thanksgiving, I'll savor that holiday turkey - for him!
Marcia Toub Cherry Hill
The unwritten law in our Italian family is the husband goes to work and the wife takes care of everything else. Within the last month, this lifestyle has changed. On Oct. 2nd, I fell and broke 2 bones in my right foot. Walker, cast, cane, and my husband have been my life support. He has been doing the wash, preparing dinner, washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, making breakfast, food shopping and taking care of me.
Thank you, mother-in-law, for raising a terrific son who is my terrific husband of 44 years.
Mary Monzo Blackwood
I love a long-standing friend who is now my special friend and has promised to always BE my friend. He was a better friend to me than I was to him. In being so, he taught me how to be a friend to myself and taught me the benefits of faithfulness. For this, I am so grateful.
Sheila Pettiford Bell Philadelphia
I am most thankful this year, 2011, that two very important people in my life have quit smoking.
My husband, Jim, is smoke-free for over 9 months after a 25-year habit, and my dear mom, Hilda, is smoke-free after a 45-plus-year habit.
I am grateful they have decided to be healthy, and here's to many more smoke-free years.
I love them both!
Justine A. Larison Wilmington
Simply being able to experience gratitude is a gift. And I am grateful this year for so many things - my health, my parents who are a daily part of our lives and the lives of our children, a husband who loves me, in spite of . . . well, me; for five senses allowing me to enjoy a perfect glass of wine, the Barnes Foundation, warm sand between my toes in Cape May, a hug, my dog's head on my knee. I'm grateful, so grateful, to be an American, to have work, a home, and a community. Thankful? Yes. Blessed? For sure.
Debbie Albert Dresher
I am thankful this year that my car passed inspection. It was a battle. The "check engine light" kept coming back on no matter what the mechanic would do to the car. After 1 month, $1,000, and about 6 trips to the mechanic, I got my new stickers! I know this is in the category of a "small thing" but I am so thankful. I just can't stop smiling!
Donna Peace Bridgeport
In June, I retired from teaching after 41 years. Leaving great students in a wonderful school was very hard. However, the educators at the Philadelphia Museum of Art made my transition not only painless, but joyful.
For the last 25 years, I had attended their program, Visual Arts as Sources for Teachers, where I not only learned about art, but also had field trips to other cultural institutions. The teachers at the art museum taught me to love art so much that I am now in the midst of my next job as a guide in training at the museum.
I am thankful for my former career and loving my new one.
Emily Farrell Media
I am so thankful to still be a good friend after 50 years to Viki and she to me.
This year, Viki was widowed. I have been most happy to be able to offer her some comfort and distractions, even if it is just coming over to my house to eat lunch and watch Bridesmaids for some much-needed belly laughs.
It is truly comforting to have a friend who knew you when and is exactly the same age. Each time I get together with Viki, it is as if we are still talking on our walk home from our parochial school or Bala Cynwyd Junior High. We could talk for 48 hours straight.
I shout out a big "thank you" to the heavens for this friendship!
R. Honey Haddon Heights
As Thanksgiving approaches, I'm especially grateful for my father-in-law Jim Boligitz. Pops passed away suddenly in July, but left behind a legacy of love and devotion to his family. He was a loving father and giving grandfather whose spirit lives on, especially in my husband Jim. Fortunately, my kids have the memories of a wonderful grandfather and the passed-down love of their own dad. Thank you, Pops, for the legacy that you have left behind.
Tina Boligitz Roslyn
In the spring, I put my lovely condo on the market. It had provided a beautiful, peace-filled shelter for twenty-two years, eighteen with my deceased, loving spouse. I knew the time had arrived to let it go.
Letting go was my first gift on this new journey. It was quickly followed by the gift of fortitude that afforded me the strength and courage to step out and make the multitude of decisions that followed. Then came the ability to say good-bye to treasures collected over the years. I had a general sense of peace and assurance that I was making good decisions.
Not to be forgotten were the friends who lovingly supported me on a daily basis.
Above all, I am extremely grateful for my sister and her husband who have welcomed me into their lovely home until I am ready to take the next step on my life's journey.
In the meantime, this Thanksgiving is special because I am grateful for living in the "now moment" and trusting that I will be guided in my future life choices.
Sadye R. Soltysiak, West Chester