My Mom had a stroke a few weeks ago. My family was very worried she wasn't going to make it for a short time right afterwards. We all quickly came to the conclusion that my Mom has nine lives, She has had all kinds of issues over many years and each time, rebounds much better than we could even anticipate. This time was no different. She is already walking, talking, laughing and joking as she used to. She also has short term memory loss and so we assumed the stroke might have a dramatic impact on her memory overall. While there have been some issues, she is doing remarkably well.My siblings have been heroic in their love and care of my Mom these past 2 months. Each of them has been giving time and love and resources to help my mom recover and feel safe and at ease in her home once again.
It is going swimmingly well. Except that it is Thanksgiving. Every day. Its one of those interesting loops the mind creates that settles her back to a familiar time. I am sure there is some science to how it works, but I don't know about that. She talks all about life, and kids, and weather, and health and things long past and then she asks you if you put your turkey on yet.
It has been interesting watching how my various siblings answer that question. Some answer immediately "Mom, its not Thanksgiving" and move the conversation to more familiar terrain. Others politely reply "Yes- we are having turkey" before moving to a new topic. Still others explain why they have not prepared themselves as of yet and how they will do so shortly. Some go to check on the turkey for her. Others inquire what side-dish and desserts she'd like with it.
Being far away, I have been celebrating Thanksgiving by phone. Mom remembers to ask for Fred and the kids each call, and then tells me how proud she is that I home school my kids well before we ever get to the turkey piece. All my siblings want to know why she keeps going back to turkeys and thanksgiving.
Sometime last night after saying goodnight to my Mom, and wishing her once again a Happy Thanksgiving the thought sunk a little deeper in me. Today it was fresh on her mind, and mine as well, when Jacquie dialed my number late afternoon.
"Hi Elle- Happy Thanksgiving" we started once again.
But this time I was ready.
"Happy Thanksgiving Mom" I answered.
"Did you get your turkey yet?"
"Yes and I will also make pumpkin pie this year- do you like pumpkin pie Mom?"
"Yes. How bout you Elle?"
Yes, I like pumpkin pie Mom-but I want to ask you something important first"
"What are you really so thankful for this year Mom?"
She grew quiet and reflective. Slowly she answered me:
"Well, I am thankful for my family."
"uh-huh, what else Mom?"
"I am thankful for my health too. I mean Elle for my age, I am in pretty good shape, and I feel good!"
"Thats great Mom- you're right.You are in remarkable shape all things considered."
"And I don't really have any troubles or problems. When I think of what some other people have on their plate, I mean really I am thankful.I wouldn't want to trade places."
"I know Mom thats true too. Is there anything else?"
"Yes, I am just thankful for all my kids. They treat me really well. They are so good to me, all of them. And I have so many, and each one, I am grateful for. Really.I am "
And now I fell a little more quiet, and understanding. And as I switched gears and did a quick catch up with my sister and a run down of general family news she asked what I was up to. I told her I was not doing too much, just getting spaghetti and meatballs on the table and waiting for Freddy to come home from work. We said goodbye.
But I thought about it, as I laid the plates and mixed some lemonade, and broke up a few spats between my kids before dinner. I thought about how right my Mother is.
I am in good health too.
And I don't have many problems.
And when I look around me at what other people have to go through I wouldn't want to trade places.
And I am so thankful for my children, and my Freddy, and my siblings who are there for my Mom, and one another and even me from a distance. I realize that every day really is Thanksgiving, or should be. But sometimes we remember that truth better over spaghetti and meatballs instead of turkey and pumpkin pie. And my Mom still has a few things left to teach me.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.