A Legacy of Gratitude

By Ariel

A Legacy of Gratitude

When I was a child, we said grace before our evening meals. During Sunday dinners, my parents generally deferred to my grandfather, who gave thanks in a more religious manner, usually starting with, “Dear Heavenly Father…”. As he spoke, we all held hands and bowed our heads. His was a ritual that I believe on some level my parents endured, as my grandparents adhered to a rather strict Christian doctrine and my parents did not. On most days, however, our grace was a simple poem of sorts. Something I learned by rote, yet even as a youngster it made sense and had meaning.

For things we like to eat

For happy work and play

For flowers, rain, and sunshine sweet

We give our thanks today.

More than half a century later this poem of gratitude lives on in my being, a mantra of sorts that has etched its way into my soul. Its simplicity is deceiving – I am in awe of the fact that, among other things, we routinely honored being happy at work and at play with equal measure.

For my Dad’s 95th birthday, I flew from New Jersey to Oregon to celebrate. Dad was just entering hospice as his dementia was increasing and his health declining. My sister Mary drove down from the Seattle area, joining my eldest sister Cathy and I, and we had some happy, silly times with him – some heartbreaking moments as well.

One evening before I returned home, the three of us made a lovely dinner complete with a beautifully set table, flowers and heated plates. Once the meal was served, I made a suggestion to say our childhood poem, something we hadn’t done together in decades. Joining hands, we said grace and I savored the words as much as I did the company of my sisters and the meal that was to come.

In honor of:
Don Van Zyl – Nov. 14, 1926 – May 17, 2022
Geri Van Zyl – Dec. 14, 1925 – May 8, 2019

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So, so, so sweet♥️

Love your article, thank you so much!
“Happy work” is my favourite bit of the poem as I notice that very often, in my mind “work” is culturally linked with “hard work”, something to complain about.
Greetings and hugs from today’s happy workplace – I feel blessed, working with wonderful colleagues.


Geri and Don were well-matched in many things — not least in both choosing to come into this world in early winter, and to leave it during the lovely month of May! Through ups and downs they partnered one another for over half a century. They showed your grandfather respect, even if not sharing his beliefs. What they shared, and loved – the garden they built – endures.

We can choose to honor father and mother, not because it’s a commandment, but because it’s healing to do so. You’ve often said that transformation in this moment goes back in time as well. That can link us, today, with our ancestors whose struggles we may not know, yet can redeem. We can listen – and share in the grace that meant enough to them to celebrate, and to teach their children. To leave as legacy.

Thank you for sharing it with us!

Much love –