“My green slacks are hanging on the bottom rack on the right side of the closet. I want the forest green ones; not the brownish green or light green. And, the flowered silk blouse that goes with them is on the top rack hanging towards the middle. You’ll know which one it is when you see it. Just pick out whatever flat shoes you think will look best.” Mom was smiling as she planned her wardrobe for Thanksgiving Day.
I was nearly out the door when she stopped me. “One more thing, you know those gold drop earrings you gave me years ago? I’ll need those, too. And, if you don’t mind could you come early enough to make sure my makeup and hair look nice?” I walked back to give her a hug, kiss, and told her not to give it another thought, “You’ll look just beautiful! See you about 11 a.m. tomorrow. I love you, Mom.”
The short two-block drive to my parent’s home was somber. We’d traveled to Kansas to spend the holiday with them but it would not be celebrated as in years past; Mother had been in a nursing home for several months. The many fractures in her spine from osteoporosis were inoperable; Mother would remain there permanently.
We mustered all our strength to be positive and keep her spirits up as she adjusted to the one thing she’d always feared most-being confined to a nursing home. The only tiny, tarnished, silver cloud to be found was that the home she’d never return to could actually be seen from the facility. I prayed it made her feel like she was only down the street having coffee with a friend.
Always able to hide her feelings so as not to upset her loved ones, Mother appeared to be handling her situation well, although I knew down deep that in a matter of time she’d not be able to keep up the charade. The following morning I arrived with the items Mom had requested and we went to work dressing and primping. She looked beautiful even with the oxygen tubing draped across her cheeks.
With Mom situated in her wheelchair, we made our way to gather with family awaiting our arrival near the foyer. As we neared, I noted instantly that Dad’s blue eyes, which had lost their luster in recent months, instantly came to life and regained their brilliance, for he’d not seen the love of his life “dolled-up” in quite some time. It warmed my heart to view the change.
Our linen-dressed table in the formal dining room was near the fireplace, a pianist played quietly in the background, and the meal was delicious. Everyone at the table was on stage like actors in a play; we struggled to feign jovial attitudes, not only for Mom’s sake, but to prop one another up as we experienced a sorrowful and drastic change in a lifetime of family Thanksgiving traditions.
Still, there was much to be thankful for when I forced myself to see beyond the darkness that tried to encompass me. Mother had enjoyed a healthy life of independence for 83 years with a man she loved dearly. She suffered no pain with her condition and she was still as sharp as a tack!
I was fortunate in having my mom to share the holiday with although it wasn’t at “home” and was missing favorite family dishes as only she could prepare. None of us knew it would be the last Thanksgiving we’d spend with Mother.
Eight holidays later I realize what a true gift the day was. Each cherished moment is remembered as if it were yesterday. My emotions that holiday were intermingled with love and grief. And, to this day they remain the same.
Remember when you count all you are thankful for. Often what seems less than ideal may be your most valuable blessing. Hidden in disguise.
May you all have a lovely Thanksgiving filled with love and many blessings!
©2009 Kathleene S. Baker
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathleene, and husband, Jerry, reside in Plano, Texas. Pets have always been a passion and a precious schnauzer named Josey Lane inspired Kathy’s first piece of work. As a freelancer, she has contributed to newspapers, anthologies, magazines, online ezines, and writes a weekly column entitled “Heart of Texas.” Kathy’s website: www.txyellowrose.com She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org