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Day by Day: Sometimes it is a challenge but I’m thankful and then some

Considering how often I complain in this space, I am always happy when my turn for the column falls on this particular holiday if only to redeem myself a little.

First and foremost I am grateful for my family. My husband and kids have not only put up with being part of this column on a regular basis, they take it in stride and with the full knowledge that Mom loves them even if she isn’t above cheap-shotting them for a laugh. This year we have added to our little group and I am grateful to my new daughter-in-law and my new son-in-law for loving my kids and making them so happy.

And as for my extended family, we were together recently when we lost my little brother Micky. Despite the pain of his death, we were all able to call upon fun and happy memories of him from the time he was a little boy throughout his all too brief life. Like so many families, we have had our ups and downs with each other but we like to think we put the fun in dysfunctional. I love them all.

I think I have said before that the best friends I’ve ever had I have made since we moved to Hudson all those years ago. We have shared much together over the years, good and bad and sad, but what I am most grateful for is the simple pleasure of their company.

I am grateful for my work. Who wouldn’t love a job where you get paid to be nosy for a living? But when I sat with Willis Miller at the old Act 2 some 23 years ago, I wasn’t at all sure I was right for this job. I do not have a degree in journalism and I had only written what I called “schlock stuff” -- tourism and promotional pieces. But he convinced me I could do it and told me there was no better way to get to know my new community than to tell the stories of the people who live there. He was right as usual. I will always be thankful for his wisdom and having him in my life.

And about those stories…they have enriched my life beyond words. To the people who have shared their stories with me over the past two decades, saying a simple thank you seems inadequate. They have shared great joy, great sadness and loss, and the quieter, more day to day challenges and triumphs that we all have known.

Just this morning I spoke with Jacci Zappa, a HHS grad and Peace Corps member, hard at work in Tanzania to improve the lives of those she serves -- a local story a world away.

This year I have added an extraordinary group of people to that list of folks. Melissa Costello bravely told me the story of her beautiful daughter Jordan who took her own life. This incredible act of courage is the way she has chosen to honor her daughter’s memory, to tell her story in hopes of preventing another young person from choosing an all too permanent and tragic solution to what is often a temporary problem.

And then there are, for lack of a better name, my new “heroin friends.” They know who they are and I will be forever grateful for their candor and willingness to bring this painful and all too often tragic scourge on our community out of the shadows and into light.

The young people who told me the story of their addiction and their recovery have shown strength that goes beyond their years. And their parents, both those who struggle through recovery right alongside their children, and those who have had to sadly learn to live without their children, have demonstrated the unconditional love that should define us as parents.

I am so glad we moved to Hudson in 1989. Born a Minnesotan, I wasn’t sure I could change area codes so easily but this community is now and forever my home. I still wish we could put a high school at the dog track and support a library the way we should but hope springs eternal. I am grateful for that too.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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