Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Life of Gratitude, by Barbara Sparks

Although we are now officially in the Christmas season, here is one more story of thanksgiving. Appropriately, as the title suggests, it is not about giving thanks one day of the year, but about living a “life of gratitude.” This tribute to Barbara’s mother helps us understand why Barbara is the woman she is today.
“God has blessed me with 80 years of life.  There’s a time to live and a time to die.  I’m ready to die.  I don’t want to be in pain.  I want to die in my sleep.”    “Mother, God has blessed me with fifty-five years of having you in my life.”  Two weeks later my mother died peacefully in her sleep.
 I don’t ever remember my mother complaining.  If she experienced rough spots or roadblocks in her life, she always found a way to bring humor into her discussion of the experience. 
My mother had many sad events in her life.  Her mother died when she was a sixteen.  She was left to raise Betty, her two-year-old sister.  Because she was so young, Mother had to defend her right  to raise Betty. In court, the judge asked Betty where she wanted to live. Betty, immediately exclaimed,  “With my sister!”  “Well young lady you can.”  the judge said with a smile.  My mother expressed then and throughout her life how grateful she was to be able to raise her sister.
 Mother was grateful for the ability and opportunity to achieve things that she could only dream of since so many obstacles stood in her way.  She repeated two quotes throughout her life.   ”Nothing beats a failure but a try. “  “For all things give thanks.”  The echoes of those quotes are a constant reminder of my mother’s life philosophy.
In 1960, at forty-two years old, she completed the two units she needed to graduate from high school and marched proudly across the stage to receive her high school diploma.    She went on to college and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree and  Masters of Science Degree.
Her lifetime dream of becoming a teacher was fulfilled when she was fifty years old.  She retired at seventy-four.
She took nothing for granted.  She expressed gratitude for the purchase of her first car, first home, and her ability to take road trips across the United States.  She reveled at the beauty of the sky at sunset, the forest and the power of the rapids.   She was grateful for all God’s creations.
The final trip of her dreams was to Israel.  Though she was loosing her sight and couldn’t walk with the energy she had had in the  past, she was still grateful that she could go. She experienced all that the tour provided which included a ride   on a camel.
My mother lived her life with zest and zeal and was always ready to experience each adventure and gift that God provided while happily expressing how grateful she was.  She taught me by example how wonderful it is to live a life of gratitude.
Today, Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012, on the anniversary of my mother’s death, November 22, 1998, I am grateful for all I learned about gratitude from my mother and the blessing of having her in my life for fifty-five years.


  1. Barbara, I can see that everything taught by your mother was passed down to you and then shared by us. Thank you

  2. Barbara what a great legacy your mother left. Such a wonderful example of positive thinking and happiness she left for you to follow. I love it that she took on the responsibility of raising her sister at such an early age undoubtly her mother instilled a good example for her to follow. The fact she went back to school at what is considered middle age and achieved her desire to teach is more than admirable. She was a blessing to many others as well as to you.
    A lovely remeberence of a lovely woman!

  3. Dear Barbara, I love that you are sharing your mother's legacy to you; and in so doing paying her homage. She was truly a lovely lady, with a lovely daughter

  4. Barbara, your mother's outlook and life are an inspiration to all who read about her. She clearly counted her blessings every day. Thank you for sharing so much about this wonderful lady.

  5. Dear Evelyn,
    I love your story of faith. God is always there for us. Isn't it a wonderful blessing to have him as a part of our life. We are never alone.

    Barbara S.