Friday, November 25, 2005

thanksgiving...what really happened

It was not Norman Rockwell, that's for sure. It was more like Repressed Scandinavian Americans Meet for Processed Turkey Food in Senior Quarters And Pretend it's Something Special. Okay, that's not true. I didn't pretend. I didn't even pretend to pretend.

I was not excited. I baked a couple of butternut squash for the feast, probably the most organic thing that appeared on the table, but I knew it would not be received with more than the usual pleasantries. I stalled leaving; I had nothing to wear (which is basically true), my greasy hair looked like shit, the kids weren't ready (again, basically true), and the beers I'd left out on the step were frozen. And it was cold and windy; basically the moment we left the house, no matter how the fire was stoked, it would start losing heat and be cold when we came back in the dark. And that's another thing in itself, the dark.

But we went because we had to. Grandma told us 12:30, and when we got there at 12:57 it was "Everybody to the table!" As soon as I walked in, I felt a void. I had to spend a few minutes composing myself in the bathroom before I could face anyone. The rote blessing was said: "Come Lord Jesus be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed." Usually my brother, a much more devout Lutheran than I, will add a little something personal. On this day there was nothing.

I was not a nice person. All I wanted to do was to sit in the La-Z-Boy, the chair that had been my grandpa's favorite chair. I was always more attracted to my grandpa than my grandma, but he died thirteen years ago. I still watch Lawrence Welk every Saturday night because that was his favorite show.

It took me until we had left, until we were out of the small town where I had spent numerous nights as a child, out of that terribly sterile senior apartment, that I figured out what was wrong, why I was so hopelessly out of sorts.

I missed my mom.

This was the first holiday without her. She died one month ago. Everybody pretended to be okay, but everybody was aching inside. I finally let it go, in the car on the way home in the dark. I missed her, and I don't know how I can ever go to one of these obligatory family functions again without her.

You know, sometimes I just don't want to leave my house here and the seat by the warm fire, with chickadees flitting about the bird feeder. They seem to know how to live.


madcapmum said...

Sorry, Deb. A seniors apartment is a pretty depressing place to be for a feast, but it's like wearing someone else's clothes when there's an empty seat.

Deb said...

exactly, madcapmum. exactly.

Floridacracker said...

I sat here for 5 minutes staring at the Leave Your Comment box hoping to come up with something, anything meaningful to say.
It apparently isn't going to happen, because I keep coming back to the cliche about time, and how it heals...
Mainly, I wanted to say I'm sorry for your loss. These partings are so tough.Take care.

Tami said...


I was thinking as I was reading your bolg "doesn't she realize the biggest porblem is she is missing her Mom? and then you said it... Holidays are the worst, at least they have been with the loss of my brothers. Don't know what you are planning for Christmas but anything you can find that will ease it for you is OKAY! There are no rules with handling grief. My touhgts are with you.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Deb-- Thank you for writing it down. It is sad to read, but it must be ten times sadder to bear that pain. There are so many wonderful writings about the stages of grief. I read a lot of it after my father died. It definitely helped me get through the toughest times. I also wrote a lot of poetry after he died. That was a great practice for experiencing the grief and transforming it into something creative. Your writing and music are perfect ways to do that.
I wish you well, Deb.

Deb said...

Thanks for all the words of encouragement. Sometimes after I post something like this I ask myself why I do it, why do I go so public with my feelings. But then I realize that those of you who take the time to read, and to comment, are truly caring souls. It means so much to me.

What really hit me was how, up until now, I hadn't felt such intense grief; it was more of a quiet acceptance. I guess it's all a part of the process.

It doesn't help, however, that Grandma, bless her heart, is a real "Keep On The Sunny Side" type person, always telling everyone to smile and be happy, and my wasn't that a lovely funeral? She is a person of strong Christian faith, but I guess she never read Ecclesiastes 3:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...a time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Cindy M. said...

I read your post through teary eyes- as I too experience grief at some of the oddest times.. (we have no family functions here as mine all lives out of state and my husbands family.. well they just don't have functions).
It's not just the physical person I miss.. I miss their voice. I wish I'd taped my Grandmothers voice so I could play it again and again.. I haven't forgotten it, but I miss it. Heck I even bawled my eyes out when our first snow arrived because it was the first time I didn't share it with my beloved companion that passed away last winter. Loss is loss, no matter how it greets us.
I'm sorry for your loss Deb. Be gentle with yourself during these days of healing. We all heal differently, at our own pace and in our own way.

Jim said...

I sure like a lot of the members of this blog community I've stumbled into...

Thank you all for being here for each other, and for me.

My parents divorced when I was 12, my father died when I was 15, my family disintegrated before my very eyes, and things have never been the same.

Love, Jim

TroutGrrrl said...

I have nothing more to add, most cool people here have said it already. I think it's pretty smart to figure out what was making you crabby and sad. Thanksgiving Day turkey loaf in a nursing home gives you lots of potential reasons...

What I miss most about my grandma at Thanksgiving is just her quiet and strong presence. I just liked looking across the room and seeing her there. Conversation with her was wonderful, but not the best part.