A Thanksgiving Story...
November 12, 2020
… A Short Thanksgiving Story… written by Lisa A Fallon, November 12, 2020
She woke up in the middle of the night on Thanksgiving Eve, remembering that she had forgot to stuff the turkey. She was forgetting a lot of things lately, not so much important stuff, but little stuff here and there. Not stuffing the turkey however, she considered a big thing.
So, she grabbed her eyeglasses off of the nightstand by her bed, she put on her slippers and grabbed her very worn, but gently used old blue sweater she draped over her desk chair that night.
She quietly tiptoed down the stairs to the kitchen, so she wouldn’t wake anyone else up and took the prepared turkey out of the fridge. She placed it on the counter. Then realizing she had not made anything to stuff it with yet, she remembered her bag of stuffing she had left in the pantry.
She moved a bit slower these days, and her memory was beginning to fade over the past year. None-the-less she was determined to have the best Thanksgiving ever. She got to work and made her stuffing the way she always had, from the recipe her mother had hand-written years before. Looking at the food stained, old worn recipe card in her mothers handwriting brought back such wonderful memories of Thanksgiving days past.
A slight tear sprung to her eyes as she gathered the ingredients, she would need to make the stuffing with.
As the clock struck 1am that morning, she was just finishing up with the turkey, placed it back in the refrigerator and headed back up the stairs to bed, where her husband of 40 years was fast asleep and snoring.
Her alarm set for 6AM, she settled back into bed, where her all white, miniature American Eskimo dog who turned 15 years old that year, laid down between her legs.
The dog always seemed to end up on her side of the bed every morning, waiting for her to rise up and start the day off with a home-made treat. Like her, the dog had sore joints, aches, and pains. Her husband had built a small set of stairs to put at the end of the bed, for the dog to climb up onto. But it was getting harder for her to climb up, and she found she had to lift the dog up more often than not.
When the alarm went off at 6am, it startled her awake from a deep sleep, where she was dreaming of last years Thanksgiving.
As they were all settled around the Thanksgiving dinner table last year, they each took the others hand next to them, and each said what they were thankful for that year.
The two youngest grand-children, twins, a boy, and a girl who were five years old went first. Of course they were thankful for their friends, (they had started kindergarten that year) for the desserts they saw on the kitchen counter for later, (chocolate chip cookies decorated like snowmen that grandma had made especially for them) and of course for their family.
The next grandchild was ten years old going on 16 and certainly acted like it most days. She was thankful that she didn’t have to sit at the baby table this year next to her twin siblings. She was also thankful for her grandmother’s cooking because she was way better at it than her mothers.
Next was her 16-year-old cousin, who acted like he was ten, and was always complaining about something going on in his life. Obviously, he started complaining that he had to say anything at all. Begrudgingly taking his older brothers’ hand and nudged by his father he said a quick “I’m thankful for this huge amount of food we are about to eat”, and then complained that it was getting cold.
The last grandchild, not really a child anymore, but eighteen and who had graduated from high school that year, was very thankful that he did indeed graduate. He was thankful that he was heading off to college in the Spring and away from his annoying little brother. To his parents’ dismay about that sentiment, he quickly added and “I am very, very thankful for this mountain of food we are about to eat.” “Amen.”
“Well at least we got an AMEN out of one of them at least”, his mother said. She was the eldest daughter of the two boys and very thankful to be there with her mother and family that year.
Two days prior sitting at that same dining room table with her younger sister and her father, they were given the news that their mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They had no idea how fast or slow it would progress. All they knew was that, at some point, these holidays would no longer even be a memory for her.
Looking at her mother with a tear escaping from the corner, she quickly wiped it away so the boys wouldn’t notice. She went next.
Holding her husband’s hand to her right, and her sister’s hand to her left, she simply stated “I am thankful that we have this holiday to celebrate all together once again”. Her younger sister, her husband and three kids had flown in three days ago to spend the week with her parents. They were staying all together in the one spare bedroom.
Her mother and father had down-sized when her father retired ten years earlier to a one-level, two-bedroom condominium. It was much easier for them to maintain as they got older. She was grateful that they had made that decision since the recent news they were given two days prior.
Next was her younger sister, who was having a hard time trying to keep it all together, laid her head on her sisters’ shoulder for a brief moment. She was trying to find her courage to speak. Her husband of 15 years spoke for her.
They decided that they would not say anything to the grandkids about their grandmother until they had too. Her husband spoke for her in saying “we are both so very thankful to be here also and the memories we are all making by being together this year, will live on in our hearts for a very long time”.
When it was her Dad’s turn to speak, he simply looked at his wife, squeezed his daughter’s hand tightly and said “Ditto”.
To that everyone said “AMEN”.
She didn’t remember until the dream she had that awoke her early that morning that she never said what she was thankful for last year.
She certainly did not think she would have her wits about her this year to celebrate and she was grateful to have another holiday with the family.
The dog waiting impatiently for her to get up and get her treat, was waiting for her at the top of the stairs.
Her husband who was also awakened by the alarm, grabbed the dog, and brought her downstairs. Since retirement ten years prior, they would always get up in the morning together, and go to bed at the same time together every night.
Falling asleep holding hands every night and whispering good-night and I love you’s was there nightly routine. Not once in the last forty years had they forgotten these bedtime sentiments.
Coming into the kitchen after letting the dog outside, her husband was startled to see that his wife was not in the kitchen getting the turkey ready to put in the oven. He saw it still sitting on the counter, but nowhere was his wife.
Just then, he heard his daughter coming down the stairs in her bathrobe and slippers ready to help in the kitchen. The kids were still fast asleep in their tiger printed sleeping bags (grandma had bought for them last year for Christmas) on the floor next to the bed where her husband was still sleeping.
“Where’s mom?” she asked, as she eyed movement outside of the kitchen window. As they both looked out the window at once, they saw her standing in front of the garden full of multi-colored mums in her worn out blue sweater and slippers cleaning out leaves.
“Good morning mom. What are you doing out here?” “Ugg, there are so many leaves down from this big old tree that the landscape company never cleaned out. So, I thought I would just clean them out myself!” “But mom, it’s Thanksgiving morning, you are out here in your sweater and slippers, and you left the turkey on the counter in the kitchen!”. “Oh no, it is? Really? I did? What are you doing here?” “Come on inside mom, I am ready to help you start the festivities, the landscapers will get these picked up later, I promise”.
Her husband who was already putting the stuffed turkey in the oven, said “you go ahead and jump in the shower, I finished the turkey for you”. Looking all confused at what was transpiring in her kitchen, she nodded and went upstairs to get dressed for the day.
“Dad, she is getting worse, what have the Dr’s said?” “They said she is progressing in her disease, and that she will become more disoriented, and lose more of her memory as time goes on. We should be prepared for the worst in the coming months”.
Sitting around the dining room table that year thinking about all that they had to be thankful for that year was very somber for them all. With the grandkids constantly asking what was wrong with grandma, this day was very hard to think about thankfulness at all.
It was not until Grandma herself told them all what she was thankful for, that the grandkids didn’t make a peep, and the whole family was very grateful to be all together again that year.
After kisses and hugs to her entire family, the next day, they all went back home. Her younger daughter and her family flew back to Florida, and her eldest daughter and family who only lived a couple blocks away, hesitated before heading out. With a wink from her Dad, she knew that everything was going to be o.k. It just had to be.
In the coming weeks before Christmas that year, the disease had progressed so fast, that she was barely able to do anything for herself. Her husband, who was her full-time caregiver, was so exhausted, he felt like he had aged ten years in those few short weeks. When Christmas came and the whole family arrived once again to spend the holiday together, it had taken all the energy out of him big time. They all saw it and knew that it was only a matter of time and felt that this year would be their last Christmas together with their Mom.
Sitting around the dining room table again, with the grand-children this time, they were filled in on Grand-mas prognosis, and they were told to be prepared to see Grandma go to heaven to be with GOD very soon. The twins, not quite old enough to understand what was happening to grand-ma certainly new that she was not the same old grandma they were used to. There weren’t any of their favorite Christmas cookies Grandma use to bake for them put out this year. Their Christmas stockings were hung by the fireplace and filled with candy instead of other goodies that Grandma used to fill them with. Grandpa had filled the stockings himself that year.
Getting through the day, with grandma sitting in her favorite chair, wearing her favorite old worn blue sweater and her favorite blanket (her dear friend hand-made for her over a decade ago) covering her lap was challenging. She fought to stay awake during the celebration, and often fell asleep when the grandkids were opening their gifts.
Grandpa did a good job taking care of the little things that day, but her eldest daughter, because she lived close by, took care of planning and cooking for the day. It was a quiet day; the kids were behaving and being respectful of grandma and grandpa. The youngest grandson found himself not complaining about anything that day. The oldest grandson was being very helpful entertaining his twin cousins, along with their older sister, who had turned eleven that month and was very much acting her age.
The day seemed to last a lot longer this year than any other year in the past. Everyone dreaded the day coming to an end. It was a day filled with joy and sadness. When darkness filled the room, and the only lights on in the room were from the Christmas tree, it was time for the day to come to an end. Everyone was filled with exhaustion from all the emotions filling the house that day, but not one person wanted to see the day come to an end.
Six days later, on New Year’s Eve, with her family by her side, she passed away wearing her favorite old, but gently worn blue sweater, and her favorite blanket which was laid at her feet.
He woke up in the middle of the night on Thanksgiving eve, remembering that he had forgot to stuff the turkey the night before. Grabbing his glasses off of the nightstand, and wearing his old, beat-up, but gently worn blue bathrobe, with his big teddy bear slippers, his twin grand-kids had given him for Christmas the year before, he headed downstairs to the kitchen. He moved quietly, as he did not want to wake up the rest of the family, who arrived the day before to spend the holiday with him.
Stuffing the bird with the home-made dressing he read from the food stained, worn out recipe card his wife’s mother had hand-written, brought a tear to his eye, as he remembered how his wife of forty years forgot to do the same exact thing the year before.
Finishing up, and placing the over-sized bird back into the refrigerator, (he had no idea how big a bird to buy that year, so just opted for the biggest one he could find) he headed back to bed thinking he would at least get a couple more hours of sleep before the twins bounced in to wake him up.
When the alarm went off at 6am, it startled him awake from a deep sleep, where he was dreaming of last years’ Thanksgiving.
After their youngest daughter taking his hand on the right, and his eldest daughter taking his hand on the left, had said what they were thankful for, they all waited patiently to hear what their mother was going to say she was thankful for that year.
With a minute or two to gather her thoughts, she was so lucent and clear just then, that he remembered the day he had asked her to marry him on that Thanksgiving morning forty years ago. He had planned the whole day out that day before. He was going to wait until Christmas eve that year, but he was just too excited and nervous to wait any longer. He took her to their favorite spot at the lake where they liked to hang out and go swimming.
The water in the lake was clear and sparkling from the suns’ rays shining over it that late Thanksgiving Day morning. It was the perfect day (Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday) and the perfect time to pop the question. With no hesitation what-so-ever, and with her beautiful green eyes filled with tears “Oh Yes, she said, I will absolutely marry you”.
She began to speak slowly and carefully, making sure to look at each one of her family members. She sat at the head of the table, which was decorated so beautifully by her two daughters, with a huge cornucopia filled with fresh mums from her own garden, and pinecones that her granddaughters had gathered from the pine trees out back.
Her daughters had placed her favorite white laced tablecloth adorned with snowmen at the corners on the dining table. She simply admired how nice the table had looked that year. “Better than any other year”, she had said to her granddaughters. She absolutely loved this holiday and what it represented.
She went one by one saying what she was thankful for about that person whom she loved so dearly. When she finally came to her husband, whom she thought was looking very handsome with his graying beard, his salt and pepper hair and wearing his favorite tie adorned with a turkey on it. He was sitting very upright in his chair at the opposite end of the table, he was looking at her with so much love (he would always make her blush with those big, brown eyes )that for just a moment she was taken back to that day when he had asked her to marry him.
Catching her breath, she started off by saying how lucky she was to have said “Yes! Absolutely!” Forty years ago, that day. She said that all of their happy memories would begin that very day because it was Thanksgiving, and that their memories together would only get better and continue every day since then. She stated that their memories would never end because they had made them together. She held them all so close to her heart, that she could feel them deep down to her soul. She thanked GOD for bringing them together and blessing them and her family. He would be her forever soulmate and she, his.
She said how thankful she was to have him by her side every day. She told him she knew GOD would take her to Heaven soon because her heart was filled with so much love for him, that GOD needed her in Heaven to share it all.
She told him she did not want him to be sad, but to rejoice in the fact that they had spent so many wonderful years together. That she was thankful for every single minute, every single day, every single month, and every single year.
She wanted this day to be remembered not as their last Thanksgiving celebration together, but as their very first.
She told him that she did not think her heart could be filled with anymore love and kindness than what he had already given to her over the years. And that their love had made this incredible family, who will continue to come together and celebrate this day for years and years to come.
That, when it was time for her to leave this table, forever, that she knew she had found the one true love of her life, and that they would always be together forever. Everyone said in unison, Amen.
He didn’t remember until the dream he had that awoke him early that morning that he never said to her what he was thankful for.
Before he arose out of bed that early Thanksgiving morning, he whispered out into the quiet darkness to his wife