Archives for posts with tag: Thanksgiving

‚ÄčI was doing good on my first Thanksgiving since I lost my mom. Of course, I missed her more today. We were always together on holidays since her health got so bad. That alone made them special. For a while this morning, I got stuck on the idea that it was the first Thanksgiving of my life that I wouldn’t hear her voice. Over the many times when I was far away from her, we’d talk on the phone no matter where in the world I was. Then I realized I can always hear her voice, if I get still and quiet and remember.

During the years when I was taking care of her, we went out to eat and shop for as long as we could. Then we just went to eat. Eventually, I dashed out for a takeout feast and hurried back so she wouldn’t be alone for too long. I got to the point where I really missed going out to eat and shop. Today, I could.
I ended up at IHOP. I’ve gone out to eat by myself for ages, whenever I was shopping or running errands. Today was different. I felt self-conscious, since I was the only lone diner. Maybe it showed. Maybe someone pitied me. Maybe that’s my dislike of being pitied talking. Maybe someone just wanted me to feel included in the family experience.  For whatever reason, someone paid for my meal. I was stunned and caught off guard, when the cashier and my waitress came to tell me in the middle of my meal. I was very touched and grateful, but that was mixed with a bit of embarrassment. I’m used to being independent and there was a feeling of rejecting what felt like accepting charity, even though I know that’s not what it was about. 
I had managed not to cry all day, but I had to force back tears while I finished eating. In fact I abandoned the final fourth of a very delicious dinner, because I knew I couldn’t keep from crying. I hope no one was offended that I didn’t finish the meal, because I really did appreciate the random act of kindness very much. I got to the car crying and ugly cried all the way toward pre Black Friday sales. I’m lucky I didn’t have a wreck. Being treated extremely kindly will make me sob even more than being treated badly. Having that come on a day when I’d been proud of myself for not crying about my mom made the floodgates not just open, but burst.

I got to Target too early and almost left when I spied the ever growing line from my distant parking spot. When I got out to see how far it went, the woman in the next car got out too to ask if I was going in. I thought I was till I got a real good look at that line. It was just 15 minutes before opening, but very off-putting still. We ended up chatting and she gave me all kinds of Black Friday advice. The one that saved me the most aggravation was that since there’s no good shopping all around that area people get together and charter a bus. Walmart was being swarmed and I nearly drove right into the jammed lot to prove it. We waited it out till the line started moving and braved it together, after exchanging names. She was Eunice, and was interesting to talk with and very kind, especially after I tried to tell her about IHOP and my voice went all quivery again. I left Target with six movies I wouldn’t have now, if Eunice hadn’t befriended someone who had never experienced Black Friday pandemonium.

So, today I’m thankful for wonderful memories of Thanksgivings that still came with a hug and “I love you.” from my mom, for being reminded that there are so many good people in our often troubling world, and that shopping can fit into a day of giving thanks…as part of it.

I’m not one of those people able to recall every minute of my life. When I see characters on a TV witness stand asked where they were on a specific date two years past, I panic by proxy, thinking they’re going down for sure. Of course, TV being so very much like real life, they inevitably reel off where they were, who they were with, even what they ate, and go their merry way…way away from further legal trouble. I sit there trying to remember what I had for dinner two days ago, shake my head sadly, and amble toward the kitchen in search of chocolate, which I’m much more likely to
remember well into the next day.

It’s my understanding that different people remember things in different ways. I mostly remember events and moments, so that instead of a tightly woven
single life cloth, I am a walking patchwork memory quilt. To me it’s as if my life is rolled out behind me like a memory buffet, to be sampled and savored by category. Some of it is vague, while other parts are crystal clear.

Every year, as Thanksgiving approaches, one of those crystal clear moments defines this particular holiday for me. Devoid of umber toned turkeys, cranberries, and Pilgrims, this particular memory is simplicity itself, but carries a complexity that makes it unforgettable.

My childhood was enhanced by the presence of a favorite aunt. Her name might have been a southern cliche, if not for the fact that she was indeed a treasure. It’s said that her father took one look at his newborn daughter and declared that she was a little pearl. That became her name and she lived a life of love and laughter and an infectious sense of wonder and joy.

My childhood was spent often in the presence of the special woman who made me believe fairies lurked beneath wild violets, shared my love of Misty of Chincoteague, and was my earliest exposure to a person who made up stories and harbored a dream of being published. Once I grew up and moved away, it was a rare treat to spend time with her. Thanksgiving at home was looked forward to all year. My parents hosted various aunts and uncles, people visited, and Aunt Pearl was always there.

One year after the turkey had been consumed and the conversation
savored, it was time for Aunt Pearl to be taken home. It was my pleasure to walk her out to my car for the extra moments of conversation and companionship. We stepped out into the crisp fall air that so perfectly accompanied a dusty blue sky, its drapery of wispy white clouds like celebratory banners. I cajoled her into stopping for a final photograph, wanting to freeze the waning day in time. She stopped and smiled as only she could. The moment was captured. I drove her home and hugged her goodbye…until next time.

There were a few more years and then she was gone. It was as if the brightest candle on an antique Christmas tree went out too soon. She was an old lady, but it’s always too soon to lose the people you love most. I still have the picture I took that one random Thanksgiving, but I rarely look at it. Somehow, that became one of those special moments my
memory captures for me to cherish over a lifetime. I remember that moment as if it happened an hour ago. The image, the sound of her voice, the way it felt to snatch a rare chance for just the two of us to enjoy the minor adventure of a drive through the holiday twilight.

For all our technological marvels, there’s still no device that can capture everything in a given period of time the way the human brain can. What a machine we are! And yet we take for granted the depths of our truest of memories. The tactile sensation of the feel of her blue sweater as we hugged. The brush of gray hair against my face. The reverberating sound of a laugh like no other. The way it felt to know how very precious one Thanksgiving moment could be. My memory saved all that and more for me to replay at will, especially when I miss her on new holidays without her.

So this Thanksgiving I’m particularly thankful for that crystallized instance that comforts me and makes me smile. I don’t remember exactly what I ate that day. Instead, I remember how I loved and was loved.