Jim Beam column: It’s great day for families

Published 7:44 am Thursday, November 24, 2022

Families influence our lives in more ways than we can imagine and there is no better time to honor them than Thanksgiving. Fortunately, each of us has more than one family to recognize.

The families we grow up with exert the most influence in our formative years. My father, for example, although he was disabled most of his life because of polio, taught me more skills than even he realized. My mother was responsible for my appreciation of how important education is in all our lives.

Each of us can recall fond memories of growing up with siblings. I had three brothers and one sister, and each had a different impact on my life. My brother David, for example, was the happy fellow who always knew how to make the rest of us laugh. Eloise, my sister, was a hard worker who cared for our mother when she had serious health issues.

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Charles was our oldest brother and we called him Sonny. He was a military man and we didn’t see him often. Dale, my youngest brother, who came along later in our lives, and I are the only survivors and we have great memories of our younger years.

My immediate family had its beginnings when Jo Ann Drachenberg and I were married in 1954. Jo Ann, who grew up Baptist, used to tell people we were Methodists because I wasn’t good enough to be a Baptist. The church became the rock on which we built our family.

Like other families, God has blessed ours in unbelievable ways. Jamie, our daughter, and Bryan, our son, have made us extremely proud. They have also helped me struggle with the loss of my wife over two years ago and they have kept me on a solid footing since.

Jessica, our first grandchild, and I have formed an extremely strong bond since the day she was born. American Press readers grew up with the two of us through the columns written about her over the years.

Andrew James Beam, our grandson, came along later and what a remarkable young man he has turned out to be. He was an extremely talented performer in his high school years and is a movie and technical expert.

I knew Jessica was going to be a great mother. Aurora and Eleanor, her two children and my two great-granddaughters, are living examples of how well she has handled that job.

Our lives wouldn’t be the same without our in-laws, and I have some really good ones. Joe is Jamie’s husband, Edith is Bryan’s wife, and Adam is Jessica’s husband.

I have had an American Press family for over 60 years that has also had a major impact on my life. What great friendships all of us have established and cherished for those many years.

Like members of my first family, many of them are gone now but they haven’t been forgotten. Each of them made an impact of some kind on my life that helped make me a better person.

Nearly a decade ago, I found a new family at the Ward 3 Recreation Center on Power Center Parkway. I exercise there five or six days every week and always look forward to the time I spend with many new friends.

I remember one of those early days when Wayne was exercising next to me and asked how old I was. When I told him I was 82, he said, “You hell, man.”

My cardiologist always asks if I’m still exercising and I tell him I’m doing weights three days a week and walking for six days most of the time. His regimen of diet, medication and exercise has kept me going for 89 years.  Like one of his other patients said, he has saved my life.

If you had told me years ago I would be playing bean bag baseball, I would have probably said you’re crazy. Well, I am doing it now two days a week and what a grand time we’re having.

I have even competed in the annual senior games, playing bean bag baseball, and competing in the mile walk. COVID-19 sidelined the games, but they are getting back on schedule.

All families have similar stories to tell, and many Americans will be sharing their favorite memories today. Remember those who are less fortunate as we thank God today for His many blessings.