I am thankful by Jon Michael Riley

About Thanksgiving . . .

I want to write about what I am thankful for, but first I need to address three obvious things.

  1. I’m thankful to live in a free democracy (okay, there are degrees…) where I can do and say, come and go, pretty much as I please.
  2. Because of the above I have access to clean running water, central heat and air, clothes, two vehicles that run, food aplenty, a quiet house, and family and friends for support.
  3. I think I am most thankful, right at this moment for women. The most important one I’ll leave for the end, for she deserves the final summation.

Lauren & Catherine Many nurses are women and I am thankful for every one. Nurses have big hearts and know things: how to help us being foremost, and they know the real scoop on doctors and will sometimes let you know. Right now our favorite home-care nurse is a guy named George, who is a real pro, knowledgeable and experienced. In our house, Nurses Rule.

My best—and fiercest—editors have usually been women. In particular are Elizabeth Sullivan, Linda Fite and Ann Hall, who worked at making something mediocre into something much better.

My mother, of course, was a special woman whose biography would be a page-turner. She was creatively brilliant, and loved us bratty sons unconditionally. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of her, quote her, or be reminded of her by something she gave us.

My two daughters, Gillian and Lauren, both very different, constantly amaze me with their abilities. So creative and brave. When one is a cellist and educator, and the other is a graphic and web designer, they have to be brave, if not fearless. Being in the creative arts takes courage to maintain and trust the creative process. I know this from personal experience.

I admire and love all the women who love Catherine and me. And these are usually friends of my wife Catherine.

Catherine Clarice Hardwick Riley.  Catherine & Jon

That she, a beautiful senior class Valedictorian, chose me, who was on the cusp of jail or some dark institution for delinquents or failed artists, is a miracle that I have always found intriguing. I know I horrified her parents. Everything about me, the way I dressed, looked, acted, everything, was an alien experience for them, a small town Methodist minister family.

Without Catherine beside me I wouldn’t have amounted to much. I can hear my friends saying, well, you still haven’t, even with all her talented help. Whatever; you may be right. Catherine has been the rock of our family, the one who projects unconditional love and care, who provided an organizational brilliance and intelligence that informed our business and sustained our family. Basically, she has held us all together through most of life’s trials and rocky roads. No matter what comes, she is strong, smart, talented, and with a huge heart has an unending depth of good will and common sense.

That she has been hammered without mercy with secondary progressive MS is tragic. This disease has taken and taken, robbing her of abilities that most people take for granted. This particular flavor of MS works slowly, but eventually takes everything a person has, a terrible truth common to many neurological diseases.

Catherine Riley @ Duke

And through it all, Catherine keeps fighting, and trying, and loving us, wishing everyone love and good will.  I am Thankful.

Jon Michael Riley Signature


3 Comments so far:

  1. Ann Hall says:

    Oh, Jon!! What a lovely tribute to your dear, dear Catherine. She is truly beautiful, in every way, and loves you as much as you treasure her. Your honesty, coupled with your devotion, made this such an honest declaration. I admire you both and I am thankful that our lives have intertwined. Happy Thanksgiving! Lovingly, Ann

  2. Barbara says:

    Beautiful tribute to all women in your life but most especially your amazing wife Catherine. I know you two have great love and devotion for each other and I admire, respect and love you both. Your words of thanksgiving really touch my heart….written from the depth of your soul. And I just love the photos. A fabulous couple.

  3. Rose Hood says:

    As I read this tribute of yours tonight, following today’s deeply meaningful service of remembrance and love for Catherine, for you, and for your daughters, I am moved yet again. Thank you for sharing your lives and making a depth connection with all of us who have crossed your paths. We hold you close in our hearts today and in the days, weeks and months to come.

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