What a blessing! It’s been a challenge trying to come up with some words to match the feelings of gratitude I feel going into this year. My 56th I meet this year with happiness, gratitude, but also some sadness. I left last year without some very special people to me, Lisa Rawls, Curtis Moore, and George Duke. We lost some great people in 2013 and I can’t help but feel it’s coming closer to me. That’s why I feel so grateful for all of you, my mom and dad, my brother and his family, and my friends Baron, Lenny, Jeffrey, Ted, Lance, Desmond, Brian, Robin, Tanya, Todd, George, Cardell, Rick, Nikki, Rob, Max, Dorene, Michael, Ellis, Natalie, and Alma. I just feel like some people need to be named as testimony to just some of the love that keeps me alive and makes my life worth living, people like Dr. Edwards, Dr. Toisekani, Dr. Putnam, and the teams of people that keep my mind and body healthy; as well as Wynton, Ellis, the rest of the Marsalis family, Roy Hargrove, Larry Clothier, and Sade, with their crews of helpers, that keep me spiritually and emotionally strong. To those many of you who do so much for me, not to mention all the rest of you that respond to my email and Facebook messages and phone calls, I am so blessed to have all of you make me feel part of your lives.
I’m sure you all have legions of people that mean a lot to you. You have to take the time to let them know, cause at some point, you won’t be able to. It’s important that they remember the impact that they have on your life. I’ve been blessed to live in a generation with television, the refinement of air travel, digital communication, computers, the web, cell phones, the first black president, and probably the first female president, and I’m still here, sharing it with you, my godchildren, and my nephews.
I hope I get to see more productivity from President Obama. That depends so much on the 2014 election – we need more Congressmen and Congresswomen and Senators to help him make a deeper and more meaningful impression on history and in all our lives today. We don’t have the right or expectation if we don’t vote for more support. He has shown us six years of family values, strength, and dignity, in spite of severe limitations. I have to thank him for that. I have to thank him for preparing to turn over a country in two years, ready for even greater accomplishments, to hopefully Hilary Clinton, her husband, and the kind of people that brought prosperity to the U.S. some years ago. I would love to see that with you.
This was a year when movies like “The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave” show strength, accomplishment, and dignified struggle from people proud to be and worthy of being some of the best this nation has had to offer. I’m thankful for all this country has given to me and mine. It’s enabled me to make a contribution and be a full participant in a world where miraculous things can happen anytime. Thank you for sharing it with me.
I look forward to good music, great sports, and family and friends getting together, sharing good times and weathering storms together. Thanks again for being there with me. I love you all!