Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow marks two years since the death of my mom so I've been feeling pretty down this week-especially listening to co-workers discuss their travel plans or talk about what they're cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Granted it was always difficult for me to celebrate major holidays like Thanksgiving and/or Christmas with my mother because it meant I had to go up to the nursing home to pick her up and bring her over to my in-laws for dinner. 

I think back to how I felt for the past eight years on these holidays. Spending Thanksgiving with my mom involved silently dealing with my irritation that residents of the nursing home were virtually forgotten all year long except on the big holidays when families would seem to appear out of nowhere to whisk away their loved ones for a couple of hours.  But if  I'm being honest with myself, I really was just jelous that they chose to live their lives independently from their ailing relatives and I was stuck being the devoted daughter of a mother whose whole life revolved around me. 

I can't help but remember  that I used to fantasize what Thanksgiving would have been like if I didn't have to pick her up at the nursing home each and every holiday because I wanted to make it a special day for her.  I thought about no longer having to perform the ritual of signing her out of the nursing home with her packets of controlled-substance antipsychotic medications, helping her into the front seat of my car and loading her walker in the trunk without crushing all the  little things she had affixed to her walker basket. I wouldn't have to then deliver her to my in-laws where she would have a few bites to eat and eventually complain  to me when my mother-in-law was out of ear shot that she couldn't chew the turkey because of her "damn dentures not fitting right." Needless to say, catering to her growing needs each year was never a blessing and always a burden.  

I recall how my mother-in-law would buy scratch tickets and candy bars to give away as prizes while we all sat around playing Bingo (bored out of our minds) with my mom to pass the time after Thanksgiving dinner. We all really made an effort to make her feel welcomed and part of our family celebration. 

But it was strained and irritating. There wasn't ever a time that I felt she really appreciated my extra efforts on her behalf to make the day special.  I'd end the day with loading her back into the car and driving her back to the nursing home most often trying to hold my tongue when she'd promise to call me later that night for a chat because she was bored again. Invariably I would muse that someday I wouldn't have to ever do this ever again.  I could have a holiday that didn't involve visiting her nursing home and dealing with all the inconveniences of trying to make her feel a part of a family celebration.

Spencer and I will be heading over to his parent's house this afternoon to celebrate Thanksgiving and this will be the second year of only having to look after myself now that my mother is gone.  I'll sit with his family and enjoy a nice meal.  But the ironic thing is now I'd give just about anything to be able to go back to Autmn Village nursing home and collect my mother for another meal that she couldn't chew.

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  1. Anonymous12:59 PM


    I will say this, this is a lesson we all have to learn at some point in time. Your story reminds me of many, many visits I made to my grandmother over the 12 years she was in a nursing home that was an hour from my home. Although driving all that way for precious little time did seem like a lot of work at the time, I, like you, would give anything to have her back in my life. Such is the way of life and death.