As I sit at a gate at DFW airport, already delayed by several hours on my journey to ISTE19, I reflect on the irony that my one word for this year is Gratitude. I will miss the Leadership Exchange activities this afternoon - one of my highlights at the conference - and probably the opening general session as well. This has been a month where being grateful has not been easy; never the less, I am grateful.
My dad died on June 2. Upon retirement, my parents moved to Mountain Home, AR. I am grateful they lived a fulfilling and happy life for nearly 20 years until health issues impacted them both. They loved living in Mountain Home, but it is not an easy place to get to. Over the past couple of years I've made that journey at least once a month, and sometimes more frequently. I'm grateful for having made that effort for the time it has allowed me to spend with them. I'm grateful that I saw my dad shortly before he died. And while I grieve his loss, I'm grateful that his physical pain and suffering has ended.
I was born and raised in the northern panhandle of West Virginia, where my ancestors can be traced back to shortly after the Revolutionary War. I've been in Texas since graduating from college nearly 40 years ago, My parents lived a life full of good relationships in Wheeling, WV, until my dad had a job transfer a few years before he could retire. I am grateful for the power of social media to bridge time and space. The love and support from friends and family in WV, where my parents haven't lived in more than 20 years, has been overwhelming. I am grateful to have been able to gather reflections from family in a shared document and share those to a private Facebook group of friends and family from their earlier life.
I am grateful to my parents' friends in Mountain Home for their support of my sisters and me during the week that we spent in Mountain Home making arrangements and holding a service. I am grateful for the cards, thoughts, plants, gifts, and support from my own circles in Texas - my church family, my work family, and especially my Digital Learning team at Region 10.
The day after I returned from Mountain Home a major storm hit the Dallas area. We were without power for nearly 36 hours (others were out longer) and I lost limbs from a couple of large oak trees. I am grateful to have not lost the trees. I am grateful that what damage we had was not significant. I am grateful for the group of neighbors that almost immediately began helping each other clean up. Within a few hours of the storm's passing we had gone from house to house on our street, cutting limbs and dragging brush and branches to the curb. I am grateful that the temperature was relatively pleasant for June in Texas during the hours that we were without power.
And, as I sit here disappointed at missing parts of the conference that I've been looking forward to, I am grateful that the airlines value safety enough to take not one, but two planes out of service after boarding. And I am still grateful to be heading to ISTE19.