Editor's note: We recently asked readers to reflect on what gives them hope and makes them grateful amid the last few years of the pandemic. This is a selection of what they wrote to us.
To the editor: I am thankful for my father's humor; that he lives to express it makes me truly thankful.
He is an 81-year-old retired superior court judge, a Black man who has weathered the pandemic in skilled nursing after suffering a stroke, and who lives to tell the tale.
Amid multiple quarantines, isolated from his family and dog, living among staff bringing the virus into the facility, seeing the murder of George Floyd on his TV, and now contending with unvaccinated people allowed to visit inside because the authorities say these people have the right to visit their loved ones while putting everyone else at risk, he has retained his humor throughout.
He tells me that upon waking he's just glad to be opening his eyes to see another day. The simple fact of his ability to laugh and make a joke after a terrible year makes me appreciate and love him even more.
Being with my father grounds me and gives me hope, for he is a still point in the turning world.
Gina Ortiz, Claremont
To the editor: A bouquet of gratitude awaits my every morning rising — the waking breaths, the walk to the kitchen on legs that still work, a brain, eyes, ears and two feet that do what nature has intended for them.
I have the gift of a home spacious enough for three generations to live together under one roof, a daughter and two granddaughters here to help lift my husband from his numerous falls. I have a daughter who says, "Don't worry about the money, mom; I'm here to help you."
I have a family forever present for the joys and sorrows in life and new friends I've met in Buddhist Zoom classes and postcard writing groups.
I am thankful for a pandemic angel who brought food to our doorstep each week during the worst months of COVID-19's rage.
Finally, I am thankful for my creative mind, which can whirl and swirl with angst, but reaches out each night, grateful to hold the thin-skinned hand of my weakening husband as we make plans to celebrate our 57th wedding anniversary in December and his 85th birthday in March, clinging to hope for a better world with kindness toward one another in the new sunrise.
Roz Levine, Los Angeles
To the editor: I am thankful this fall that the trees drop a rainbow of leaves reminding me that winter is coming to be followed by spring. I am grateful for snow in the mountains and for the rain that cleanses our air and fills our lakes and reservoirs.
I am grateful to the musicians, dancers, actors, comedians, painters, sculptors and poets who create works of wonder and grace to remind me of the best aspirations of humanity. With their help I can put aside the rough times we have endured.
I am also grateful to the scientists and doctors who are ethical, innovative and concerned with the betterment of all sentient beings. The voyages of discovery and innovation of the past two years are a beacon of light in a storm-tossed sea.
Shelley Marquez, Auburn, Calif.
To the editor: I feel more grateful this year than I have ever felt in all my nearly 78 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. Capitol insurrection have reinforced in me how truly thankful I am to believe in science and medical professionals as well as how appreciative I am to be an active supporter of racial equality, nonviolence and our cherished democracy.
Jerry Rubin, Santa Monica
To the editor: Recently I hosted 18 members of my family, ages 9 to 87, here in Newport Beach for a weekend family reunion. It had been 15 years since I had seen my nieces, 10 years since I had seen my sister, and too many years since seeing cousins.
It was a celebration that we all lived through the pandemic unscathed, and a loving nod to our immigrant and refugee parents who survived the Holocaust and made a life in America decades ago.
Like branches on a tree, we grow in different directions, but our roots remain the same.
Doris Goldsmith Melnick, Newport Coast
To the editor: The last year has been challenging for so many in a multitude of ways. It has granted me some opportunities as well.
I've learned that I can continue to feel close to my kids even as I watch them head off to distant universities, trusting they’ll continue to take necessary precautions to stay safe. I realize I can meet the needs of my clients as they struggle with the darkest days of being a parent.
I'm grateful for finding a way to care for my mother, who endured a life-changing stroke amid a pandemic.
And finally, I am grateful for the clear-eyed commitment I made to care for myself and my marriage during these challenging times by maintaining a balance of dear friends, time in nature and an enduring dedication to protecting the fragility of our democracy with political activism.
Amy Luster, Santa Monica
To the editor: I am grateful for and find hope in gentle souls who mostly go unproclaimed, which is probably best because their exposed hearts would be too tender in this prickly world.
So thank you to the quiet ones who hold hands, adopt older animals, listen with compassion, read with open minds, knit, give away knitted things, share, plant seedlings, write poems, open doors, go last, teach young artists, love the unloved and smile with their eyes.
Karen Lindell, Los Angeles
To the editor: I am thankful:
For my beloved friends, who stand by me even when I’m angry and impatient for the world to change and I lash out at them.
For my lovely apartment in a good neighborhood in L.A.
For the life of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who kicked ass with his music and his apparently kind heart. You brought me happiness, Charlie!
For the Beyond Loss program of grief recovery, which has profoundly helped me begin to heal from the deaths of both my sisters.
For the good writers in the world who continue to write good books for us to read.
For my health.
For my three vaccinations.
And for President Biden, our imperfect leader who makes me feel that I matter.
Wendy Werris, Los Angeles
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.