Instagram Feed

Instagram Feed

Nov 29, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We spent Thanksgiving this year with my parents and my grandparents at Grandma and Grandpa's apartment in Delaware. It was...well I'm not quite sure there's a word for what it was. So I'll break it down.

It was fun: Spending time with my parents is always fun for me, even if the environment is not-so-fun. We laughed, as we always do, about everything. But especially about the possibility that the apartment might spontaneously combust due to the equatorial temperatures that rose between the stovetop cooking on all four burners, the oven trying its darndest to get that turkey’s popper to pop (which it never did), and the thermostat that is always set to a fiery 80-something degrees.

It was quiet: It was the perfect storm for bad behavior that day. Sam and Lena had shortened naps on the way to Delaware, couldn’t play outside due to the rain and cold, were confined in my grandparents’ hot small apartment…most 1 and 2 year olds would have been screaming and wreaking havoc. But not Sam and Lena. Not this day, at least. They played quietly, ate like champs, and were troopers for the entire day (and only broke one knick knack). All in all, a success. I’m sure it was just a fluke, but I was so proud of them.

It was filling: Even though there were only a few of us this year, we cooked as if all the aunts and uncles and cousins were joining us. And it was delicious. The two things that contributed most heavily to my overeating and 2 pound weight gain, though, were my favorite sausage dressing (here's Lena eating some...which she proceeded rub into her hair to add to the buttery, greasy look she was sporting after dinner) and my mom’s millionaire pie. Good lord, I’m on veggies all week.

It was sad: I’ve written about my grandpa’s condition here before, but it continues to deteriorate. He has fairly late stage Alzheimer’s it’s heartbreaking to see what this terrifying disease has done to him. This once vibrant, colorful, storytelling, music loving, active, funny man who lived for his family and couldn’t get enough of holidays...he didn’t utter a word or a sound the whole visit. We had to practically carry him to the table for dinner, which my patient and tender mother fed to him. He’s just not in there anymore.

Once when Samuel was belly laughing across the room, Mom said Grandpa smiled a little, which warmed my heart. But it also made me sadder.

It's easier for me to think of Grandpa as a shell now that this disease has obliterated his mind. It’s easier for me to think that his soul might already be in heaven instead of tethered to his failing body, fully intact and aware – just stifled by this illness. To hear that he (his soul, the thing that makes a person a person) might have even a fragment of a moment of awareness enough to notice something like my sweet boy’s laughter…well it shoots to shit my conciliatory idea that his soul is not stuck in there, suffering. But it also brings tears of joy to my eyes to think that he might have had, even for a fragment of a moment, happiness because of my boy.

Alzheimer’s is a hell of a thing.

It was eventful: My poor grandma (this is the only picture with her in it, as she was in her pj's and probably didn't want to sit for a photoshoot) had been suffering with terrible back pain for the 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving. When she visited her quack doctor, he just pushed a bottle of arthritis pills at her without even touching her back or examining her further. So she suffered more as Thanksgiving day wore on. You could see the pain in her face. Mom rubbed her back a little where it hurt and said she felt a big lump, which we all assumed was a severely pulled muscle. When Rich and I left with the kids around 5:00, Mom and Dad were trying to figure out a way to get Grandma to the emergency room with the least amount of fuss. When I called for an update a couple hours later, it seems my cousin and her boyfriend (a nurse and paramedic respectively) came by to check on her and figured out by a simple examination that her hip had popped out of place. So they popped it back in and, other than a residual dull ache in the muscles surrounding her hip, the pain was gone. It was a Thanksgiving miracle!

It was perfectly imperfect: My sister always says that it’s a disgrace how commercials and movies and your own imaginings and hopes gear you up to have these unattainably perfect holidays with your families. Because inevitably, a kid is puking or you’re sick or someone can’t make it or the turkey burns…somewhere along the line something happens to douse the flawless dream of Norman Rockwell holidays. Not that we haven’t had our fair share of nearly perfect holidays, because we have. But all bets are off when you have young kids. Or elderly family members.

So this Thanksgiving I gave thanks to God for my family:

Rich and the kids, who are my life;

Mom and Dad, who always amaze me with their grace and strength and humor even when faced with stark reality and tough decisions; and

Grandma and Grandpa, who I respect and adore, Alzheimer’s and popped out hips and all.

No comments:

Post a Comment