The Union Recorder

November 30, 2013

ROWLAND: This old oak desk and the stories she could tell

The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — It is 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. A slight chill descends over my house, but the gas log burns brightly in the fireplace downstairs. I can see the reflection of the flames dancing off the glass panes that serve as the front wall of my home. It shouldn’t take long for the warmth to rise toward the loft where my old oak desk overlooks the lake.

I am thankful for this old oak desk. I remember precisely when it was purchased because of how I got the funds to do so. I sold the first pickup truck I ever purchased with my own money, took about half of the proceeds, and bought a piece of furniture that has served as a good friend since the mid 1990s.

A lot of tales have been spun from this old oak top in the nearly 20-year relationship we’ve had with one another. Checkbooks have been balanced, coffee cups have been spilled, and a few dings and scratches have added character. She’s been a great inspiration to me over the years. I look forward to many, many more.

The old gas log is starting to earn its keep. I’m thankful for that, too.

The coffee pot just told me that my morning jolt of caffeine is ready. I’ve poured up my first cup, it sits guard over my keyboard, and the steam wafts over the hue of the computer screen creating a scene akin to steam rising off the lake.

I’m thankful for a coffee pot that can talk — well, sort of— and the feeling I get nursing that first cup in the morning, tapping on the keys of this computer, and sharing my thoughts, dreams, and life story with others. I’m not sure I have much talent for this sort of work, but God just always seems to put the words into my head and somehow they get transferred to paper.

I am thankful for a God that loves me enough to give me supernatural abilities that I am incapable of on my own. Not to belabor the point, but some of my friends are suffering today from physical infirmities that will more than likely overwhelm their earthly bodies.

I am thankful for the promise that there is a place where earthly bodies are not necessary and the physical pain of life no longer exists. My hope is that this place has snow and golf courses … two more things for which I am thankful.

A number of years back, I built a workshop in my backyard. Well, a more appropriate way of saying that would be that I “had” it built, although I did do some of the work on my own. I dreamed of and designed the kind of place that resulted from several attempts at other homes where I’d lived that just fell short of the “man cave” experience.

I had the good sense to put a heater in that space. Later today or sometime tomorrow when I go out there to piddle, I will be thankful for that heat. Otis, my chocolate lab, slept in there last night …with the heat on … I’m guessing he is thankful for that heater, too.

In November 2009, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was about that same time of year that Otis came into my life. It’s hard to believe, but I have a picture where I was holding him in one hand. Today, he stands about three feet tall at the shoulder and weighs 100 pounds.

Since the kids are all gone and it’s just Mama and me, Otis has sort of taken over as our focus of attention. He is patient, always listens, and never talks back. He is smart, thoughtful, and always carries a pleasing disposition. He is always open for a hug, a kind word, and doggie treats. He is just a snugglebug! Man’s Best Friend doesn’t even begin to describe his place in the family.

Just so you know, he has won over my extended family, as well. He spent a week with my sister, recently, and I wasn’t sure they were going to give him back. I have a picture of Otis standing sentry over my one-week old grandson’s bassinet. When alert, his face is a Norman Rockwell painting. At rest … well, he is just a snugglebug.

I am thankful for everything that crazy dog represents in my life. I’ve been nearly four years, now, with no cancer. I’m pretty thankful for that, too.

Of course I am thankful for all of the things for which everybody else is thankful … family, friends, country, food, fellowship, a job, those who serve, a new grandson, and other things too numerous to mention. My Dad turned 80 this past year. He has had a few health issues, but really he is in pretty good shape. If he’d say so, I’m sure he is beginning to get frustrated with an old body that just won’t work like it used to. I tried to remind him recently of just how thankful I am that he is still here. I’m not sure I did a very good job of it, but hopefully he understands.

I have been at this old oak desk long enough now that the sun is just starting to peek above the trees to the east. There doesn’t appear to be a cloud in the sky, and the orange glow of first light is reflecting off of the river. From my desk, I can see up the mouth of Sandy Run Creek, and the opposite shore is casting a mirror image across the water. A light fog is drifting just above the water’s surface, giving away a slight breeze blowing from the North.

I’ve seen a lot of these sunrises over the years. Just one more thing to be thankful for: It is at a time like this that I am reminded there isn’t enough space on a hard drive to save every thought of thankfulness. I think that is why it is important to be thankful each day, to communicate thankfulness, and to pass it along.

A gentleman by the name of Ray Bruce once told me I could write. I thought he was a little nuts but he was persuasive. It took many years before I had the courage to test his faith in me. I look back at much of what I have written over the years and still think the old man might have been a little off. I am thankful for his encouragement and disappointed that he isn’t around to know it.

Mama and I went to dinner last night, and we saw some friends who made mention of my column. It still just amazes me that anyone will take ten minutes out of a busy life to read anything I might write. If you are reading this today, I just wanted you to know how thankful I am that you are willing to share with me all that life has to offer. You are the greatest!’

From the Rowland family to you, here’s wishing you a humble and heartfelt Thanksgiving. May your day be filled with great memories of joy and thankfulness.