Give thanks. I went through Thanksgiving of 2021 much like every other previous Thanksgiving in my life. Days of cleaning the house, cooking, setting up extra tables as needed, all with lots of planning and eager anticipation leading to a special day. Some years had a house filled with people, other years were quieter. Most years had a morning filled with watching the parades on TV, and sometimes I even watched a little football in the afternoon. There were two things, however, that every year had: more food than was really needed, and no real consideration of what changes might be in my life by the next Thanksgiving.
Give thanks. This year is different. As many of you know, John was diagnosed with Parkinson’s (Plus) disease several years ago, and also is experiencing “multiple system atrophy.” And yes, that is as ominous as it sounds. I am so appreciative of the home health care he has been receiving, and the many friends that checked in on him while I have been hospitalized. Even so, the care he needs is increasing at the very time my ability to provide it is decreasing. We had to make the difficult decision that the time has come for him to live in a residential care facility.
Give thanks. The facility we chose is the Veterans Administration Home in Quincy, Illinois, and we submitted the application in early October. Four days ago, we received word that he has been accepted there, but since no bed is currently available in the skilled nursing unit, he is on a “wartime veterans wait list” for now. How long until he moves there? No clue, but probably a time frame of a few weeks to months. Considering the options, we are both very thankful that the option to go to Quincy was available.
Give thanks. Then the harsh reality hits: this is our last Thanksgiving together in our own home. Is it easier to know this is the last one, or to just have things happen? Which would you prefer? I’m not sure which is better, but this is the way things are happening for us. I am thankful we have this day, this Thanksgiving, together.
Give thanks. My energy to cook is limited, and my ability to eat even more restricted. In an effort to make this day as special as I could, I told John I would do my best to make whatever he wanted for our Thanksgiving dinner today. He asked to think about it for a few minutes, then asked for these frozen burritos. That was not even what I would have guessed, but hey, I gave him the choice and that is what he wanted. Everything I needed to turn those burritos into a reasonable casserole was in the pantry or refrigerator, so I was glad to fulfill his request, even though I am not able to eat them.
Give thanks. Is this the Thanksgiving of my dreams? Not hardly. I miss the rest of my family dearly. I miss the chaotic noise and chatter and scurrying around the kitchen with questions of “Lolly, do you have any (fill in the blank)?” I miss the hugs, the smell of pies in the oven, the opportunity to make more memories to add to my already rich tapestry of life. But, on this day, I won’t overlook what I do have. I have this day, this Thanksgiving, to reflect and give thanks for the 20 Thanksgivings John and I have shared together. Even though he naps while the football games are on, that is part of our shared memory, too.
Give thanks. As an only child, I have fewer and fewer memories that I share with others. Most of the people with whom I have closely walked through life are already gone, most often by their death. I am the keeper of the memories. I am the storyteller. I intend to imprint every moment of this day – even the difficult ones – into my heart, and give thanks for every one of them.