Thanksgiving Adjustments

Without outline or scripting, this blog will be as raw at the turkey in my refrigerator. 

Spouse went to the grocery store this morning and returned with all the fixings for homemade cookies–the one’s he saw in the December issue of Sunset Magazine, “The Cookies You Crave. ”  He left the grocery-filled cloth  sacks on the kitchen counter, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said he’d see me later this afternoon.  Wink. Wink. Hint. Hint.

I just put on my MBTs so I could stand and bake the rest of the day.  Running through my mental holiday check list, I could not peg what was bringing me down as opposed to my usual excitement.  “Fresh cranberries. Check.  Emotional swell.  Cornmeal for stuffing. Check.  Emotional swell.  Roasting pan from garage. Check. Emotional swell.  WTF is going on?”

“Cards out to assorted family members. Check.  ” I want to throw up. 

JoanneLast year’s annual Thanksgiving card mail out  included a specially purchased one for my older half-sister, Joanne,  who lives in Arizona.  I stuffed the card with photos of my grandson and went on and on about how he is such a charmer.  “I hope that you have a most wonderful day with all your family.  Love, your sister, Charmaine.”

She always returns a card with photos of her cats wearing Santa hats or reindeer horns, her husband and herself–usually making funny faces at the camera.  No card landed in my mailbox last year, but I knew she had a health issue, and made a note to send her something special for Christmas and her birthday that follows shortly thereafter.  And I did.  Still no response.

I called, but her phone was no longer in operation.  Okay, along with my sister’s health issue, was her husband’s plethora of health issues and the sad accompaniment of financial devastation with trying to stay alive.   Other than driving down to Arizona, there are no other ways to connect with her.  So I kept those cards and letters going all the way through the Fourth of July 2009 with exciting new information about our great grandfather’s historical lineage.

In August this year, her step daughter called.  “I can’t believe you don’t know this, but your sister died last October.”

Initially I wanted to scream, “If you or your father don’t tell me, how in the blank am I supposed to know?”  But I didn’t because she  continued with, “Dad died in July.”

Our festive 2008 Thanksgiving feast and joy included my thoughts about my sister, and that maybe if things worked out I could go down and visit her in 2009.  That kept my 48-hour cooking marathon a joy. I dwell on family and people I love while I cook.  If only I knew then that Joanne’s ashes were blowing across the Arizona desert.

Today, as I begin the cooking marathon, waves a nausea and grief distract from the happy holiday cookie recipes splayed flat on the kitchen counter next to the grocery-filled cloth shopping bags.

I will make this pass. Soon, my beloved family arrives to a home that wafts rich with roasted turkey and all the good things that Thanksgiving celebrates.  Grandson Quinlan is learning holiday songs, so I’ve pulled my holiday piano music for him and I to learn together.  Dear friends plan a  visit too. By  Monday evening–the britches I wear today will be too tight, Aspercreme and Tiger Balm will coat my feet, and I’ll know not to wait for a card with photos of Joanne’s cats wearing reindeer horns.

6 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Adjustments

  1. Charmaine,
    Your home will be filled with much love in a few hours. Your sister is looking down and she knows how much you cared. She was blessed to have you as a sister as I am to have you for a friend.

  2. I cannot take credit for the following sentiment – it is from a card I bought a long time ago. It seems especially appropriate for you, dear friend.

    like the ocean
    comes in waves
    only to recede
    and come yet again.
    But with it comes healing.

    Memories was ashore
    and are bathed
    by the golden sun.

    Grab hold of those memories
    and let them
    fill the emptiness.

    May they bring you peace.

    our deepest sympathies,
    Cathy and John

  3. Dearest Char:

    I share your pain over Joanne’s loss. The way you were notified was unconscionable. You were robbed of the closure that comes with a funeral, or memorial service.

    You are experiencing the waves of grief your friend Cathy identified with the beautiful sentiment she sent.

    Sadly, and when you least expect it, those waves of grief will lap upon the shore of your life. I pray to our Lord that with time your sorrow will be assuaged.

    I so wish I was there with you, so we might hug. I know it would do us both good. Until then I include intentions in my prayers for you, and send my warmest fraternal love.

    Your first roommate,

  4. I just read of your sister’s passing. I’m so sorry you weren’t called right away. As you and I both know, we never forget someone we loved, but the grief lessens and the memories become precious and meaningful. God bless, Aunt Pat.

  5. I don’t know how I missed this one but I just read it twice now because it hit me so hard. All I can say is I am so sorry. What a way to find out. The holidays bring joy but also so many memories of the past. I guess that is why life continues with new family births to help us move through the grief of the ones we have lost. c

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