Thankful for what I have and what I hold on to
Elinor Tatum | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.
This year has been a hard one. Not just on a personal level, but on a business level, and a physical one. First, I lost my father Bill Tatum. That was an unexpected blow. He had experienced a number of health problems over the years, but his indomitable will and spirit had always given him the ability to bounce back, and my family lost him after a brief and unexpected illness.
Then, the economy continued to go downhill and we, like most media companies, have had to make changes to the business to manage in a changing climate and in the most brutal market for journalism in memory. Then, at the same time, several things were happening to me physically just because of all the stress and strain of a year gone bad.
This is usually my happy time of year. The leaves have changed, the air is brisk, there is a lightness in the air. But this year is different.
It is more of a somber experience. Wondering how things will be different. How the Thanksgiving table will look without my father at the head of the table. How the conversation will change and how our whole family dynamic will be forever different without him.
This is a change all of us must go through sometime in life, experiencing the loss of a loved one and what it means especially during the holidays. Their favorite food is still placed on the table, you try to figure out who will sit in that particular seat, you wonder what that person would be saying if they were there, and you wonder and wonder why you still can't have them with you--especially on those holidays.
But then you have to remember all the things that you do have. All the family and friends you do have and how much they add to the fabric of our lives. And that the year has been hard on them, too. But we are thankful we have each other. We are thankful for our health. We are thankful that we have food on our tables and a way to provide for our families.
We mourn what we have lost and try desperately to put back the pieces of our lives, knowing that there will always be a hole, a space in our hearts. That hole will get smaller in time, but it will always be there.
At this Thanksgiving, I do have a lot to be grateful and thankful for. I have a mother that is one of the strongest women I know and someone that loves me unconditionally. I have family, both related to me and not, who have been there for me and for us throughout this very difficult year, and friends who are my rock and a shoulder to cry on when needed.
But most of all, I am thankful for the time I did have with my father, Wilbert A. Tatum. He gave me the tools to go on without him. He gave me the permission to do what I need to do to help this paper go on for another 100 years. He gave me love, hope, perspective and perseverance; things that no one can ever take away. And for that, I am thankful.