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Stephanie Hill: Tell your treasured people what they really mean to you

January 3, 2019

“Family is a unique gift that needs to be appreciated and treasured, even when they’re driving you crazy. As much as they make you mad, interrupt you, annoy you, curse at you, try to control you, these are the people who know you the best and who love you.” — Jenna Morasca

“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.” — Barbara Bush

I suspect there is a direct correlation with each increased year of age, but I cannot help but notice that I have a growing sense of appreciation for my family. It is not as if I never before put value on my family, because I always have.

However, like the warmth of the sun’s rays in winter versus late spring, the esteem with which I hold my family has intensified; and, I further suppose will evolve in the same way spring’s warmth develops into summer’s heat.

This past year, especially the holiday season, only convinces me more of the truth of this realization. I more fully appreciate the gift of each year with John, my husband of nearly 30 years.

Each moment with our daughter, Madelyn, in her second year of college, is more precious.

Conversations with my siblings and parents are also more cherished. Furthermore, I have a greater sense of loss with the passing of each friend and family member as, like my age, those numbers are also increasing.

Two thousand eighteen was certainly a year of amplified awareness for me - an awareness of things left unsaid, words said in hasty anger, impulsive reactions, and/or a lack of action. It seems time is flowing rapidly like our Ohio River after days of heavy rain; and, I am adrift on a log of emotions unable to reach the shoreline.

Thus, as the holiday season winds down, if you will allow me, Dear Reader, to indulge in a few lines of gratitude.

It is my hope that by sharing these thoughts with you, that perhaps you will join me in saying those words that need to be said; or, at the very least, begin to reflect upon the people Divine Providence has put in your own life.

To my brother, Scott, and sisters, Traci and Rachel, during the holiday season, I received the gift of seeing all of you! As stories were swapped and laughs were shared, I frequently heard tales of my childhood bossiness, although I prefer to think of it as my blossoming leadership skills!

“The kids,” as I thought of you, were in need of my guidance and advanced wisdom, I felt certain as a youth. Thus, while I am sincerely sorry for my pushiness, I hope each of you know that my actions were motivated from a sense of great love, pride and protectiveness for you. I felt as if I was your third parent, and with that came a sense of responsibility for your wellbeing - however misguided my intentions were.

I loved, and still love, each one of you. We share a unique history that bonds us like no other. You each formed me into a better person; and you each shaped/influenced the type of parent, teacher, and even writer, I am now. Thank you.

To my nieces and nephews, while I was unable to see all of you, I was blessed to see six out of nine of you during the holiday season. Furthermore, of the three great-nieces/nephews, I was able to see one. What a blessing you are to our family and me! Each of you is bright, articulate, witty and all possess beautiful and unique souls. When I am around you, I feel energized, renewed, and full of hope for the future. May you continue to bless the world with your sense of humor, creativity and raw honesty. I love each of you.

Mom and Dad, while you were not a perfect match for one another, you each did the best that you knew how to do at the time. I could have never managed to go to school, work, and raise four kids in my 20s; yet, you unbelievably did just that despite the obstacles! Each of you instilled within me the love of the written word, appreciation and drive for education, a strong work ethic, and a love of movement.

Mom, you gave me the gift of cooking and baking; while Dad, you gave me the appreciation for quiet time in the woods. Both of you also shared with me the love of the beach, the mountains, educational travel, and you tempered my leadership, aka bossy skills!

I hope each of you know how very much I realize you sacrificed of your own happiness for us kids. Your early adult years were not easy; and I was NOT an easy first child, but through your struggles I learned, and, even now, I continue to learn from you. I am more empathetic and sensitive because of you. I love you both; and, I am so glad you each are traversing your own paths of happiness.

Maddie, my singular miraculous and marvelous child, you are truly a gift, not only to your dad and me, but also to the world. Your quick smile, sensitive nature and pure, honest soul heals and/or soothes all who come into contact with you. I was and continue to be an imperfect mother - that is for sure. However, from the moment you were born and our eyes met, I have felt a deep, abiding love and connection with you that is more fierce and true than I ever knew was possible until I became your mother.

Furthermore, you are my greatest teacher - providing me with ample lessons of humility, strength and fortitude. I love you, and will continue to love you “to the moon and back again,” as your Dad and I would assure you when you were quite young.

John, you are my dear husband and truest friend. From our very first conversation, I knew you were the love of my life. As my greatest cheerleader, you have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, however crazy they may seem to others.

You believe in me - even when my inner demons of unworthiness raise their ugly heads of doubt and fear. I know that when we join hands, we are an unstoppable team that is able to face down any obstacle or challenge that life throws our way.

Our nearly 30 years together have not always been easy, but just like the pains of birth, nothing worthwhile is born out of ease. It is through our struggles that we have grown, and only deepened my love and appreciation for you. You are, and always will be, my north star.

Finally, to you, Dear Readers, who faithfully read my words as I struggle to derive greater understanding, deeper meaning, and more positivity from life, thank you for joining me. Whether you are reading my writing for the first time, or you are a follower and regular reader of my blog, you motivate me to continue this writing exploration as amateur as it is.

Your feedback, kind emails and unspoken energy fuel this writing exploration. It is my wish that maybe, just maybe, in some small way I add a form of encouragement, optimism, and/or light to your life.

Here’s to 2019 and all its lessons, promises and realities it has to offer us. Namaste.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.

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