Thursday, November 18, 2010

Let's Go to the Hop!

(You might want to read my added comment about the inappropriately upbeat tone of this post's title BEFORE you read this post.  Just saying.)
OK, I'm here at the Special Needs Blog Hop.  And the prompt for this week is...
Share a Thanksgiving Memory

And yes it's late into the evening, almost Friday, and still, I have not been able to tackle this one.  I am rarely at a loss for words, but in this case?  It's hard for me to think about Thanksgiving.

Not because of my children, they are generally reasonably well behaved on Thanksgiving (well, as long as there is a television in the house). 

It's my Dad.

This will be the first Thanksgiving without him, our first without my Dad and my Mother-in-law.

Ethan is mad about this.  "Why did Grandma and Grandpa have to die in the same year?  I lost TWO grandparents in ONE year, it's just not fair!  I used to have THREE grandparents and now all I have left is one Grandmother."

And Jacob?  I don't know how he has processed these deaths.  I'm guessing not that much, because he will still ask to "Go see Grandma and Grandpa?"  And he still calls it "Grandma and Grandpa's" house.  Death being such an abstract concept.  (And abstract being so hard for his autistic, language-processing challenged brain.)

Abstract in one way, thudingly concrete in others.

Last year my father was at our apartment for Thanksgiving, this year he is gone forever.

And also last year?  Thanksgiving?  Was the last time he was ever in our apartment, at all.

To tell the truth, even then he was barely there.

Ever to be counted on for a post-dinner couch nap, this time Dad slept on the sofa the whole time.  We could not get him to come to the table.  He barely ate, a man who usually loved him some turkey.  He only roused himself for a healthy big slice of Pumkin Pie.

"He's diabetic" my mother fretted,  "Should he have pie?"

I did not know how to kindly say what I saw and knew, that he was so clearly frail and failing, with such little time left, what did it matter?  It gave him pleasure.  It was what he hungered for.  Let him have pie.

Two months earlier I would have jumped in all motherly and whittled down his slice to a sliver, stood over him and pecked at him until he ate some turkey with trimmings.  Something green, too.  But there was still a man to feed in September.  By November, a completely different story.

And indeed, less than two weeks later we stepped into the serious end game.

So right now my Thanksgiving memories?  All the happy ones of recent years past with this, my chosen family and way back when, with my family of origin, the aunts, and uncle, cousins tumbling together in joy?

Shadowed by the terrible losses of this terrible year.

I have done very little thinking and planning for Thanksgiving this year.  And it's good that there is very little I have to do.  Bringing wine and my mother to my husband's family's house in Westchester (and, as always, GF/CF goodies for Jacob) is about the limit of what I can manage.

We will eat and drink and talk and laugh, but it will be hard to find true merriment in my heart.  I will celebrate what remains, I will let the warmth and light of family wash over me.  But I know I will spend some moments staring out through the big windows into the vast dark, saying goodbye once again to my father, to Blanche.

Our family has grown both smaller and larger this year, the wheel of life has churned on, spinning wildly.  It will spin on ever still, and I am still feeling dizzy.

I will stand still for a moment at Thanksgiving this year, remembering the last: my father in our entrance hall holding my warm hands in his cool, papery, trembling ones.  He thanked me for dinner, told me how much he loved me (as ever he did), remarked on how nicely Jacob was coming along.  I may have reminded him that I would be taking him to the doctor the following week, that appointment that set the final tumble in motion.

We had borrowed a wheelchair from their assisted living facility to get my father over to our place, so I towered over him a bit.   I kissed the top of his head as I took my parents down the elevator to catch their ride.   Dad's last exit from my home.

So while many of us find Thanksgiving to be a day tinged with a drop of melancholy, a tiny hint of mourning for the "perfect" family we had wished for mixed in with celebrating the wonderful, special family we have, I will be doing some actual mourning.  Ticking off another "first" in my year of sad firsts.

And I will raise a glass of red wine (the nice Saint-Joseph I'll be bringing) to my Dad.  And maybe (if the kids let me) take a little couch nap in his memory.

Wishing everyone an enjoyable (and not too frazzling) Thanksgiving.

And?  If you're in the mood?  Hop in and tell your story...


  1. Um, Yeah I know that's a strangely upbeat and perky title for a blog post that's all about grief and missing my dead father. Let me explain.

    First, chalk it up to late-night-tired-posting coupled with inadequate proof-reading.

    I was being so smart, see. I knew I would be participating in the SN Blog Hop so set up the post with title, button and the first few sentences days in advance and then waited for the prompt. I figured I would be telling a funny story about my kids again. Um, not so.

    And then after writing and re-writing the post, I forgot to look at the title before I hit the magic "publish" button. Well, that's the good and bad of being self-published. No pesky editors to bug you. Or save you from yourself.

    And (correct me if I'm wrong here) I have been told that changing a post title after it's published messes up search engines and feeds and all that other technical stuff I only vaguely understand, so I should just suck it up and leave this one as is.

    Sorry if I messed with your head.

  2. I didn't know about changing the title messing with the feed, oh well, now I do:) Lovely post Varda, such a complex time for you and your family. I won't wish you happy Thanksgiving, but I will be thinking of you on the day. Jen

  3. This will no doubt be a tough holiday for you. My granddad died on Nov 23 5 years ago. My grandma (his wife) is sick in the same hospital right now. My mom, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all there (2000 miles away by air). It's kinda a rough time for us, too. Still,there are many great memories to be grateful for.

  4. What a beautifully written entry. I, too, will raise a glass of red wine to your father on Thanksgiving. He was obviously a great man to garner such obvious love and admiration from his daughter.

  5. I'm sorry you've had such a rough year. Holidays, in particular, are really hard to deal with after a death of a loved one. Take good care of your mom and try to make it as joyous of a holiday as possible.

    Have an extra big piece of pumpkin pie in memory of your dad!

  6. This is my first time to your blog and I am not usually much of a commenter, however this post tugged at my heart. My dad died just over two years ago, followed by two other close family deaths and I have a son with Asperger's.

    His death changed out world. And I believe that it is okay to say to your sons that yes, it isn't fair that Grandpa and Grandma aren't here right now and that you miss them too. I also caught myself calling it Mom and Dad's house and other things like that.

    Every holiday/event seems different without him. We work to find our new normal in what life has given us. We don't have as hard of a time talking about him anymore. Things still happen all the time and I wish I could call him... Life goes on, but it is very different, isn't it?

    With my son, he didn't react as much as I thought he would when his Papa died. He had a lot of questions about what happened and why. He was actually more emotionally upset when his pets have died.

    Sorry for such a long comment from someone new...

  7. This was beautifully written. i hope the holiday won't be too traumatic for you, and that glass of wine at least takes the edge off your pain.

  8. So beautifully written, and of course, I feel your loss so much. My father died two weeks before Thanksgiving, and to say his absence was glaring would be an understatement. My mother insisted on having dinner at our house with 30 people just like always, and she was a mess, as were we all. Each year I'm reminded of it.
    However (and this is the reason it has taken me so long to comment), I am finding that we are creating new traditions in his honor without realizing it. My father used to mock everyone during dinner and have giant political discussions after. Now, my brother does it. He used to carve the turkey. Now my poor vegan husband does. It doesn't make his loss easier, but it makes remembering the good times better.
    I hope you are able to enjoy that nap next week in his honor.

  9. Hugs to you and wishing you more than just one glass of wine! Please take care of your Mom for sure and enjoy new memories as best as you can.
    I'm new to the SN blog hop (1st Thanksgiving...)

  10. Really hoping you make some new Thanksgiving memories to treasure this year or next!
    Lots of love.

  11. Your post this week was very touching. You really spoke from the heart. I hope that you can find a little holiday cheer despite the circumstances. Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for joining in the blog hop.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!