Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Wish

Tomorrow - more than Christmas, perhaps - my wish is that everyone I know is with people who love and care about them so that they can be truly grateful for what they have.

I will be thinking of my mom all day tomorrow.  Mom has always loved this holiday and it's always meant a little something more to her.  My brothers and sister and their families will be with her, as will a few extended family.  Time was that everyone in our family gathered at Mom and Dad's for Thanksgiving.  We'd number close to 60 or 70 in some years, including neighbors "popping" in.  Mom would spend a few days cooking and then spend the rest of the year accepting compliments on the amazing job she did.  But the crowd continues to get smaller now as the next generations start traditions of their own with other groups of people.

Perhaps the biggest loss for Mom this year will be Dad's presence at the dinner table.  Dad recently took a rapid decline over a period of 6 weeks.  There's no reason for the decline, but then there is no reasoning with Alzheimer's.  My dad, who was always a fit man around 200 lbs, now weighs about 130.  He seems to feel okay, but his body is withering away.  My dad was always covered in muscle and bulk, but now I can feel his bones when I hug him.  My brother Matt used to stop by the nursing home and (literally) pick up Dad to bring him to family events.  But Dad seems so frail now that Matt fears injuring or hurting Dad while transporting him.  So now, Dad will no longer leave the nursing facility.  And it's absolutely the right thing to do.  As hard as it is to accept, i'ts just the next step in this disease that simply just doesn't care.

I'm sure my Mom will spend a few minutes privately asking herself, "what happened?"  When did it all change?  Did she ever think that it would?  Had she prepared herself enough for this?  How will next year be different?  I am comforted, at least, knowing that Mom will be surrounded by love, regardless.

I stopped traveling home for Thanksgiving in 2006.  It became too expensive and difficult to travel home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I spent Christmas 2005 in Chicago away from family and had a horrible time, so I vowed I would not miss Christmas again.  This means Thanksgiving had to go, at least on a regular schedule.  I think I made it back once since then and hope to again in the near future.  But not this year.

I am lucky to spend Thanksgiving in Chicago with friends and MY family.  Every year, we are invited to Bob and Neil's cozy home.  Neil spends a few days preparing the most sumptuously decadent meal we will eat all year.  We will drink a lot of wine (a lot of wine) and laugh and eat.  We've been doing this for several years now (even flying in from Miami when we lived there) and if I cannot be at my mother's table, then THIS is the place I want to be.

May you, too, be able to count your blessings this weekend and be among those you love and call family.  Happy Thanksgiving!