Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. Time with family. Great food. A spirit of simply togetherness and calm. The Macy’s parade left on but unwatched until Santa arrives.
But now, well, it’s all that bitter sweet can be. I get to remember my mom, and I get to remember her death . . . and because she died on a holiday that doesn’t occur on the same date every year, I get to do that twice. It’s hard.
This year, Dad and I will be with her dad and step-mom, helping them make the transition into an assisted living facility. This, too, is bitter sweet. It will keep us busy, but it will also be a reminder in a totally different way of Mom’s life and the way that all our lives go over time.
Still, I am thankful because I realize I am now living my own life into the years when I started seeing her as her own person, not just my mom. I remember very distinctly being 13 and realizing Mom was 40 (and ancient, of course). I can see her cropped hair – so much like mine now – and her soft, smooth cheek. I can remember how she didn’t say anything when I decided to dry shave my legs for the first time just before my first junior high dance and the way she gave me cold towels when I came home all burnt up in more ways than one.
I remember the years she spent with her good friend Susan making dried flower arrangements in their small business, The Statice Symbol. It is because of those days that the smell of eucalyptus always reminds me of her.
I remember how she bought me a little stuffed dog named Patches on my first day of high school when I felt so lonely, and even then, I knew she hurt because she couldn’t take that pain away.
I remember standing on the steps outside her house and having her hold me tight as I cried over my first heart break. “It hurts so badly, Mama.” and her cool hands on the back of my neck as she held my face to her shoulder.
I remember playing Scott Joplin duets on her piano and laughing so hard that both of us couldn’t finish the song.
I remember so much, and for this I am grateful, even through the tears.
Today, I want to ask you all to help me remember her by considering a donation to the American Cancer Society. As the chair for the Relay For Life in Mom’s home county, I am honored to work with an amazing group of people who hope to raise $100,000 to fight this disease that steals so many years, lives, and memories from us.
My personal goal is to raise $10,000 overall, but this month, to remember Mom, I’d like to raise at least $1000 by selling luminaria – candles – in memory of Mom or someone loved by someone I love. Luminaria cost $10 or $25, and you can remember a person who has died, someone who has fought the disease and is still with us, or someone – like my dad – who has cared for someone with cancer.
Then, at 10pm on June 8, we will light these candles – hundreds of them – and take a silent walk in all that life glow. We will remember; we will cry; we will fight on.
Please if you would, consider a donation for someone you love or for my mom, who you would love if you knew her. I have no doubt.
Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving. May your day be far more sweet than bitter.