The Gift of Present

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Kyle, Kolby and Faith

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I’ve never been one to understand the folks who bemoan a holiday or associate it with pain. My lack of empathy, while unintentional, comes strictly from a bundle of delicious memories tucked away in my heart .

While I know there is rampant family dysfunction and a thousand other awfuls abounding in the world –it’s never touched me during the season. Thanksgiving and Christmas were my respite from the chaos of life. I still catch myself searching for Santa and his sleigh on Christmas Eve after so many years of wanting to believe.

I relish the thought of pumpkin pie and chats with grandma, cheesy small talk with cousins and hours of football. I dress my kids in party frocks and it’s a no-brainer that I will gain at least gain two pounds from my mom’s pecan pie alone.

Unfortunately, due to some rough patches, I’ve now crossed over to the dark side.

Just the smell of turkey bums me out.

Two years ago I lost a favorite uncle while the turkey was in the oven, a year ago my aunt (his wife) joined him and I watched in disbelief as my cousins buried both their parents back to back. But now I am hit with the hardest pill of all to swallow –the diagnosis of my father with Dementia.

I look around the table and there are empty seats where smiles used to be. My heart lurches and pangs. The cranberries taste more bitter than sweet.

As we shared our blessings at dinner this year I wasn’t honest. I muttered out the typical Jesus-y pat answer. Certainly, I am fortunate to have a loving husband and beautiful children. We have health and provision and faith. I get it. I am thankful beyond words.

But I didn’t share what I was most grateful and most greedy for –these precious and now fleeting moments with my dad.

I don’t know how many Thanksgiving’s I’ve got left with him and quite frankly, it ticks me off. I couldn’t be truthful. I didn’t dare. I would have broken down and bawled like a baby all over the green bean casserole.

It took a long time (too long perhaps) to finally have the relationship I’ve always dreamed about with my dad. But this dream is is as delicate and fragile as the ones in my slumber. I’m afraid to wake up and watch it dissapear while I rub the sleep out of my eyes.

Will my father carry the tinkle of my daughter Faith’s laugh in his heart? Will he be able to recall the golden curls of little Kolby? Will he recognize his grandson’s smile and gentle spirit?

What if he forgets me? What happens when I call and my daddy doesn’t know my voice?

How do I enjoy this moment and swallow turkey when I am mourning over the tears which I know will inevitably follow?

I am envious of the peace my dad has discovered through suffering. He has surrendered to the inevitable and placed his hope in God. I, on the other hand am stubborn. I play a tug of war.

I know God is able to heal but his will is a mystery. I don’t understand, but I trust -sometimes begrudgingly. I worship through tears coming out my nose.

Stupid turkey. Stupid holiday.

Stupid me… for not appreciating every precious second.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving? Sitting next to my dad, breathing in his familiar coffee breath and taking mental snapshots of his every single move.

Reason #28 to be thankful –finally understanding the gift of being present.

What are you thankful for?

Comments

  1. Oy, vey, that’s such a hard thing to face. My mom isn’t there yet, but if her lung issues don’t kill her, she will be, I’m sure. My grandmother had alzeheimers, but I never knew her too well. It’s so hard to see those we love lose so much of themselves…

    • It’s such a strange age for us. Raising little ones and facing our parent’s mortality and thus our own. I’m thankful for my dad’s close relationship to the Lord. It comforts me.
      Thank you…
      Sam

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