When I count my blessings this Thanksgiving, I plan on including Emma, the woman I care for, at the top of my list. I’ve been caring for Emma for the past year, and she has helped me grow spiritually and emotionally and I am so glad I have gotten to know her.

Emma has helped me see that even little things can bring great joy. How many times have I walked past a colorful flower, only to have Emma stop and admire it for ten minutes? A delicious meal, a beautiful sunset, a visit from an adorable great-grandchild, are all opportunities for Emma to light up and show me how every blessing God bestows on us must be savored.

I’ve also learned from Emma how important it is not to give up, but to try and try again. It’s not easy for Emma to button her sweater, but she will patiently work on it as long as it takes, till she gets it right. It would be simpler to be wheeled around in a wheelchair, but Emma insists on getting out her walker and walking whenever she can. It may take a while, but she’ll get there in the end. And nothing beats the smile of satisfaction on her face when she reaches that bench and sits down to rest.

Emma has also taught me that family is not just about blood. I had never met Emma till a year ago, but now I feel as close to her as her own daughters. She treats me like family, and her children and grandchildren do too. I’ve participated in numerous family dinners, holiday celebrations and birthday parties. I am asked for advice about anything and everything, and I do my best to provide the best counsel.

This Thanksgiving, I will be having two Thanksgiving dinners. I’m making an early dinner with my husband and kids, with all the trimmings and traditional foods. Then I will join my other family, where I will care for Emma and enjoy being a part of their celebration. I know that I will be asked at both dinners what I am thankful for, and I know exactly what I will say.