Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving has not been a fun or favorite holiday of mine for many, many years, but it is getting better with new additions to my family.

At first, I used to love the holiday. Although not that fond of turkey, I never had to worry. My mom always cooked the turkey and dinner and all I had to do was eat it! Easy enough. I must admit that I’ve never cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving in my entire life! Oh, I’ve cooked parts—a breast, a wing and many, many thighs, (my favorite part of the turkey). When my mom died, I still didn’t cook Thanksgiving. Either my sister-in-law did or my husband, at the time, prepared the turkey. I did the trimmings.

One of the last times I saw my family together was Thanksgiving, 1992, when my daughter and her fiance, drove to Tucson from Los Angeles to celebrate with us. Everyone was in a great mood. Always a fair kid, I was informed this was my year for Thanksgiving; next year they would go to her Dad’s in Phoenix. Little did she know that I was not cooking the turkey! The man of the house was doing it and did a great job! We kidded about the engaged couple sleeping in a trundle bed. “Don’t you know,” my daughter said, “that engaged and/or married couples like to sleep in the same bed, close together, not in twin beds.” I replied, “You’re close enough; you’re not married yet! And unless you want to sleep on the floor, this is the only other bedding in the house!” (To this day, it remains the only other bedding in my home, but with new mattresses.)

It was a festive weekend. I did not know it would be my mother’s last weekend alive. She died from heart failure the following week, not much older than I am now. How was I to know that my daughter would only have another year and a half to live before tragedy struck our family again after another holiday season and wedding celebrations, my daughter’s and her best friend’s.

As we celebrate every year, we are always thankful for our health, our families, our comfortable life. But the death of a child changes all that. I do not celebrate Thanksgiving as a festive day anymore. Sure, if invited, I go to a friend’s home, but when I hear others talk about their child, see their grandchildren and hear what they did recently, I always wish they would ask about a story or just mention my child, who they all knew and loved and who also lived a wonderful life for as long as she could. Sure, I wish she was still here, enjoying everyone and everything, but it was not to be.

I do, however, give thanks for what I do have now: a new husband of 10 years, a new step-daughter, who couldn’t be more like my own (born in the same month and on the same day), and recently, her new son, my first grandson, as her proud father, my husband, says to me, “I know you’ll never get over your own loss (and I wouldn’t expect you to), but I’m so glad I could help a little, fill the hole in your heart.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Celebrate as best you can with those you love.

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