Thankful Series: Valen Keefer

This is part of a special series for the month of November, where we share with you what some of us in the PKD community are thankful for this year.

“My mom never told me that she loved me.”

My heart sank when my 93-year-old grandmother shared this in a recent phone conversation. My grandma and I had a meaningful talk about life and the importance of love. We were discussing my recent health episodes and I told her how thankful I am for the love that surrounds me.

My grandma talked about how affection has changed over the decades. She said that in addition to her mom never telling her that she loved her, her mom never let her call her “mom,” but instead made her address her as “mother.” Grandma said that my grandfather never told her that he loved her, either. I asked her how she raised my dad and his sister, because my father is such a caring dad. Grandma shared that she told her kids she loved them and made sure to hug them. She thinks that families are very different today than when she was young. This made me wonder how and why the expression of adoration has evolved over time. It made my heart hurt, imagining my grandmother growing up in an unaffectionate home. I’m grateful that she changed this family pattern by raising her children differently. At the end of our talk, my grandmother very sincerely said, “I love you, Valen.”

Growing up, I never had to question if I was loved, and I attribute why I fought so hard during illnesses and survived all of my health struggles to that. I’m blessed with an unconditional love not only from my parents, but also from my devoted husband, Noah, which helps me live positively and gives me something to look forward to. I endure so much every day because of my health issues and love is the fuel that keeps my mind strong, body healthy and soul hopeful.

Love comes in all forms, experiences, environments and intensities. It is a warm embrace from a loved one, the adoration in our partner’s eyes, laughter with friends, snuggles with our pets, feeling the sun on our face and the wind blowing through our hair.

This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for love. I’ve learned to lead with my heart, live with an open heart and follow my heart. Also, always make time for love – give it, receive it, make it, grow it, and appreciate it.

What are you most thankful for?


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