My best friend …
I’m thankful for my best friend, Jill. We met in a production of “Hello, Dolly!” at Carnation City Players in Alliance nearly three years ago and basically have been inseparable ever since. Both of us are Stark County imports and don’t have any family close by, so we decided to become each other’s family instead. Jill has driven me to the airport in the middle of the night, sat with me while I cried on my couch and has been invited to every Matas family function I have attended. Our significant others have joked that we love each other more than we love them, which is only a little bit true.
Growing up as “Opie” …
I’ve always been thankful for having had the opportunity to grow up as “Opie.”
Fishing pole in one hand and baseball glove in the other, the memories of my childhood—and that of my siblings—might have fit well into the script of an “Andy of Mayberry” episode. We didn’t have much money, but it mattered little because we were rich in loved ones. Our stable home and the safe neighborhood offered more than enough activity to capture our interest, and a nearby lake was available for excitement. Anything more elaborate we discovered in dreams that our parents not only acknowledged, but also encouraged and supported.
Memories of my childhood seem accompanied by the same nostalgic whistling that started Opie’s show, and smiles remain in my mind and heart to this day.
Friend that became family …
My best friend, Abby, and I have been friends since grade school. We used to pick flowers together at recess in kindergarten. Through the years, I admit, we did lose touch a little bit. But in high school, we became close again.
We got through the trials and tribulations of college with the help of Skype and weekly emails to catch up on all that was happening in our lives.
After college, we got even closer, especially when I started dating her cousin.
We’ve been through highs and lows together—breakups, job stresses, fights with each other, fights with other friends, family issues, weddings, moves—but we always support each other. And we’re always honest with each other.
When I married Austin, my best friend became family, and I’m so thankful for that.
My daughter …
I am thankful for my healthy and happy baby girl.
While my pregnancy largely was complication-free, doctors warned my husband, Josh, and I that our baby may be born with a clubfoot, which is a deformity where the baby’s foot is turned inward, often so severely that the bottom of the foot faces sideways or even upward.
They believed the deformity would be mild and treatable with special shoes or even surgery. But I still envisioned the worst, worrying that she may never walk properly or that the deformity would lead to other, more severe leg problems.
Gianna was born at 10:43 p.m. May 15. As the doctors gave her to me, I glanced down at her legs and saw them—two perfectly straight feet with lots of tiny crooked toes.