When we arrived at the facility, I immediately recognized it as the same building that had originally been the convalescent hospital that mom had stayed in, and where she eventually passed away. That startling reality did give me an ere feeling, and I wasn’t in a rush to enter the front door. I didn’t want that memory to dampen my spirits, but it wasn’t a thought that was easy to brush aside.
Once we arrived on the second floor, we were greeted by Irene’s son Michael. It was so good to see his handsome face, and sparkly eyes, that my uncomfortable feelings melted away. Everyone was excited to see Irene, and we all congregated in her room. Michael stepped around us to bring our attention to the room we could use to set up the dinner. It had a warm and welcoming feeling. We all moved to the guest room and began to position the food that Kim and Megan had prepared. The over-stuffed sofa was an inviting sight, and the big screen TV suspended from the wall made the room feel homelike.
Having forgotten something in my purse that I’d left in Irene’s room, I wandered the corridor until I saw her open door. I went inside, got what I needed from my purse, and on my way back to the space where we were dining, I glanced into one of the other patient’s rooms. There were several people gathered around a bed. I spotted an older white haired fellow facing my direction. I couldn’t take my eyes away from his facial features. He so closely resembled my father it was hard to catch my breath. The first though that came to mind was “he’s alive……he must have run away!!” I caught myself in the midst of those thoughts before I charged in to wrap my arms around him. It did take me a few minutes to gather my composure. I really wanted that wonderfully handsome fellow to be my dad, but then reality grabbed me by the neck, and drug me down the hall to rejoin Irene’s family.
We all had a wonderful time. The food was still warm, in spite of the time between when it was packed up, and when we ate. There was a variey of friendly conversations that took place in that small, but comfortable room. Everyone was happy that Irene’s recovering is going so well, and she was in such good spirits having a delicious home cooked Thanksgiving meal with her family. There was no dissension, just love being exchanged. How could a group of people have such an enjoyable holiday meal in a rehab facility when my family couldn’t have a peaceful meal together in my home? I can’t answer that question, but it was a telling experience that I hope will help me to replace some of the not so great holiday memories I have from the past.
I know that all families have their rough times to go through, and there are always unsettled matters that cause emotions to ebb and flow. It’s part of the human experience. Some families have it built into them to show a level of respect and dignity at certain times, and this was very evident yesterday.
Irene had a great time with the family, and me, and I was so happy that I was included in this wonderful Thanksgiving experience. I feel a real sense of appreciation, and gratitude today. I’m grateful that I have a dear friend, that I’ve known for over 38 years, who I could spend this holiday with. I’m grateful that Kim and her family welcomed me to ride with them to visit her mom. I was also grateful that I made it home safely, in the dark, from Petaluma. And I was extremely grateful that I have a home to come back to.
Yes, it’s easy to walk through each day, accept what’s there, and go on to the next day without noticing all of the wonderful things that make up each of our worlds.
I’ve always been thankful for my friends, but probably not grateful enough. It’s so easy to take people, places, and experiences for granted. I know that I have. It isn’t intentional, it’s habitual. But the older I become the more attention I intend to give to the good that is in my life.
I hope that instead of seeing the glass ½ empty, I continue to strive to see it ½ full. I guess it’s about putting more emphasis on the good…and let’s face it, most of it really is good.
This is the end of my gratitude story. I know that Christmas is coming, and I know I will shed some tears, and I’ll wish that my family was here to laugh, argue, and cry with. They are no doubt somewhere, and I’m sure they will be watching me, and maybe even watching over me. I want to show them the best person I can be. The one who was left behind, but the one who can appreciate what life has to offer. I will do my best for them, and for myself. I will rise to the occasion, like I have learned to do…..and cry later. It’s all ok. It’s all part of the human experience.
© Shari Adams
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