Count Your Blessings by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

Happy Fourth of July! Today, I sit on my deck, recovering from the Covid-19 virus, grateful that I live in a small town in the Midwest where friends and neighbors have gone out of their way to bring food and run errands. One lake neighbor dropped off chocolates and Twizzlers and flowers on our steps while another, on his drive from Kansas City to Tulsa, stopped to shop for items we needed, including a miracle-find of Clorox Wipes. Pam, my Utah friend, called her homeopathic guru and over-nighted me herbs and vitamins. Cards have arrived, and daily, friends and family members text, asking about my improvement. Many have phoned Dave, my husband, when it was difficult for me to maintain any breath control to speak.

I can’t say enough about Dave. He has been a saint. I was quarantined to the basement for 14 days. Dave made sure I had a thermometer and an oxygen reader, and even though I had no taste buds, I never was without a plate of fruit (a wonderful, stocked refrigerator treat from our Stilwell friends). When I progressed to being able to walk up the stairs and sit on the deck, he stayed a step behind me to steady my walk, brought me blankets and disinfected the area.

All of those were wonderful blessings, but what has touched me the most has been the out-pouring of prayers. Oh, how I relied on those prayers! When I would cough so hard I thought my lungs would explode, when I would chill and sweat and be incapable of taking a deep breath, when every bone ached, when I was so unsteady I could barely make it to the bathroom, I remembered the prayer-warriors who were lifting me up.

And so, today I sit on my deck, taking time to thank a mighty God who, it seems, is not calling me Home quite yet. He is calming my normally-frantic brain and causing me to concentrate on the beauty of life. I am blessed to watch as three fishermen, unaware they are in my eyesight through our deck rails, patiently row around our dock, casting their lines in various directions, enjoying the moment, even though no fish are biting. Two squirrels, playing “tag” for the past hour, have found my peanut feeder and leave not a shell for their friends. Birds, hidden in the cascade of overgrown tree limbs, noisily chatter while a butterfly comes near enough for me to touch it. A sweet visit.

But then 14 geese, determined to visit every morning and leave their “mess” on our newly-concreted sidewalk, show up to eat the grass seed we planted a few weeks ago. Dave makes the walk to our dock, waving frantically to run them off. With their ruffled feathers, they honk and jump into the lake, but it is only a matter of time before they return. Life, as we all know, is not perfect. But a small town in the Midwest comes close.

In a few days, the lake will be a place of celebration as jet-skis and boats and campers come for a day of recreation and entertainment. Fireworks will be shot from docks, music will blare, and we all will be reminded of those whose sacrifice proved just how “unfree” freedom really is. This year, we small-towners have much to be thankful for. Here, we don’t have to worry that our shopping areas will be taken over by misdirected rioters who set up camp and intimidate gutless, city officials into acquiescing to their desires. Here, parents of toddlers playing in the front yard or youngsters watching television don’t have to guard against flying bullets. Here, store owners don’t need to plywood the windows on their stores or protect against thieves helping themselves to whatever loot they can carry away. Here, the American flag is revered, not burned.

Let us count our blessings, and even though there always are reminders (like unwanted geese) that small-town life might not be perfect, I imagine that most of us wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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