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Always count your blessings …

Sometime after my mom retired, she “got into” ceramics. She and her friends went to classes taught by a woman in my mom’s neighborhood. For the most part, they applied glazes to clay pieces of various shapes and sizes. Many of her nieces received a wide variety of holiday ceramic pieces for their wedding showers. Occasionally, Mom would use cookie cutters — appropriate to a particular holiday — to create a small ceramic token she used as a place card at the meal table.

This last technique is how I came to have and treasure a small clay, cookie-cutter-created, turkey. (I do mean small; it’s only 2 inches tall and 1 ½ inches wide.)

I treasure Sir Turkey for what Mom wrote on the back of the figure: Denise, Always count your blessings and give thanks, Mom.

This sentiment, this conviction is so my mother. Needing to be grateful was a theme she emphasized over and over and over — and over.

Not until I became an adult — and not a young adult — did it occur to me what this attitude may have cost her, how hard won a value it must have been for her.

My mother was widowed when my father died in an automobile accident. They had been married fourteen years. She was left to raise the three of us — my sister, brother and me. Her mother moved in with us and my mother went to work “outside the home” before the phrase was coined. She sent us to Catholic grade and high schools and my sister and brother graduated from Catholic colleges. (I joined the convent — so she was spared the expense of my college education. I have the Sisters of Providence to thank for that!)

In all my growing up years, I never felt from her an anxiety about the future — though I’m sure she must have experienced it; nor do I remember any feeling from her that life had treated her or us badly. Again, I’m sure she must have struggled with remaining optimistic; but I knew only her positive outlook and her enjoyment of life.

I’ve brought out the little turkey once again for this thanksgiving season. It sits on my prayer table and I read the words every morning. The words are both a prayer of petition that I will live their spirit and a prayer of praise that I had a Mom who loved and so taught me to “Always count your blessings and give thanks.”

You are among the blessings of the Sisters of Providence! Know that you and all you love are in our thought and prayer this Thanksgiving time.

In Providence,

Sister Denise
General Superior
Sisters of Providence

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Avatar Linda Walenga Stanford '71 on November 24, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Thank you, Sr. Denise! I’ve found that an “attitude of gratitude” to be most helpful when the storms of life are surrounding me. Your kind sharing, and lovely word quilt have given me much to ponder as we approach the holiday of thankfulness.

    Blessings from near Lake Michigan–something of beauty on any day!


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