In the author’s afterword in her bilingual picture book Gracias: Thanks, Pat Mora asks the reader, “What are you thankful for?” There are many answers to this question for me, but the one that always comes first to my mind involves the people that our daughter Anna labels “The Original Five” in her photographs. The Original Five

•    For Allen – the young man with black wavy hair and a shiny red and white hardtop Buick convertible who caught my eye with his looks and my ear with his piano-playing. For his wearing well, long after the hair departed, through 50-plus years in multiple houses in six states and four countries. For the peace of his presence even when I’m in another room. For his opinion when an editor sends a rejection letter – “They must not have read it.” For his still asking before I leave the house, although I have worked long hours and have an income, “Do you need any money?”
•    For Murray – the one who made us a family instead of a childless couple. For loving his ride with his Matchbox cars in the cubby in the back of the Volkswagen Bug that was our family car before it occurred to us how dangerous that was. For seeing the world through a warped view and making us laugh. For his music from Bach to Scott Joplin. For being the kind of big brother to his siblings that I wished for when I was a child.
•    For Anna – who took a middle position and turned it into a role model of persistence. Whose tenacity as a first-grader in overcoming a tongue thrust made her a model for the following year’s students and fooled a college speech teacher who said, “I can tell you’ve never had any kind of speech problem.” Who knew the difference in giving up recitals and giving up piano and continues to bring joy to others with her music. Who loves presents but finds even greater joy in giving the exact right gift to someone else. Who holds fast to friends old and new.
•    For Mark – the curly-topped blond who smiled early and often. Who completed the Anna/Mark duo that filled up our only child household. Who was the chronic accident that seldom waited to happen but always added another story to the family lore. Whose need to be in the center of the family created an obstacle course as we maneuvered around his six foot form sprawled in front of the TV watching a football game while doing his homework.

Following closely behind on this list are the people this Original Five brought with them into our lives, first their friends, then their spouses, and finally the really important ones – the eight grandchildren – but you don’t have time to read all I could say about them! Repeating Pat Mora’s question, I would ask, “What are you thankful for?”