Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Blues

Jim & Pat's beautiful table at Thanksgiving

It's another year of Thanksgiving finding me full of mixed emotions, aware that looking backwards and feeling sad is so much easier than looking forwards and feeling hopeful.

This was the first Thanksgiving since my parents moved back north that I did not spend with my Mother. We will be seeing her today when my family does their day-late Thanksgiving celebration on Long Island. But Thanksgiving proper was spent with my husband's family in the city, a small quiet dinner with just two families (and our nephew's lovely girlfriend).

They live up high in the sky, on the top floor of their tall apartment building, and from a south facing wall of windows there is a clear cityscape view with the Chrysler Building standing out, central to it all.

The Chrysler Building is deeply significant to my mother, her favorite building in the whole world. She loves art Deco and it is a supreme example of that architectural style.  Whenever we came to events at Jim & Pat's (and we have for many many occasions since I've joined my husband's family) my parents were always invited, and my mother always seated opposite this window where her view of the Chrysler Building would be unobstructed. And she never ceased to wonder, marvel at the view.

One thing my mother has never been accused of is being unappreciative, ungrateful. She would thank Jim and Pat profusely every time she came over, would spend much time looking out over the city she loved, watching the skyscape shift from day to night, giddy in her good fortune at being invited for such a view.

And last night, every time I looked out the window and watched the Chrysler Building shining back at me, the unbidden thought kept welling up: "Mom should be sitting here, seeing this. And she likely never again will."

Two years ago, the first Thanksgiving without my father and Dan's mother was flat out hard. Last year, still, there such a sense of missing people, of present ghosts.

Three years ago, Thanksgiving day was the last time my father ever entered my home, and it was clear, that day, he was fading fast.

And now my mother is slip sliding away too; though slowly, so very slowly.

This may be her last Thanksgiving. It may not. We spin the big wheel and see where the fates take us. Either way, we're along for a bumpy ride.

I hate striding into the holiday season hand in hand with this melancholia. I long for simple good cheer. But that's not how life sits with me right now.

So I strive to feel grateful for the little things, those shiny moments, amidst the gloaming.

Shortly we will pile into our ancient but still serviceable car, drive out to Long Island to pick up my mother and take her to family, to the heart and hearth of her brother's nearby home.

It won't be the Chrysler Building, but it will more than do.


  1. Have a warm family Thanks Giving weekend. xxx

  2. Oh, the Chrysler Building is my favorite NYC landmark, too.

    This is my first time commenting here, but I have been reading your blog for some time now. Being sort of sandwiched myself (between a 5 year old son and a mother who's 80 and a father who turns 90 in a month or two) your writing resonates with me (even though I am living over here in Europe). But so far I have been spared – knock on wood – the illness part.


  3. Us, too, Varda.

    We had my mother, too, and she is frail. Needed help just getting from the sofa to the kitchen table, and I thought the same, "THis may be the last, and if it's not, I can't even imagine what a wisp of a person will be with us next year."


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