It’s been a year since my last Thanksgiving with my mom. Life goes on, and I thought I might reflect. I was in Milwaukee a year ago – setting a table and decorating the house, waiting for my mom to die. Not in a “I can’t stand her” kind of way, but more in an inevitability sense. She was relegated to a wheel chair, steroids fueling her energy and desire for sliders. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find sliders? I made them one night, and my mom had a little critical feedback:
Mom: These burgers are over-cooked, cold, and dry. It is the tri-fecta of crap.
Me: They’re pink, warm and smothered in mayo and ketchup.
Me: Oh mom – I’m so glad cancer spared your sense of humor.
She’d built a life-time of good will and some brain damaged hating wasn’t going to ruin anything. Besides – those sliders were the bomb. Ask anyone. They’ll remember my mom talking shit (but if their taste buds could talk, they’d give me props.)
We all held hands and said something like Grace. And then we all ate our last Thanksgiving meal with my mom, sort of falling asleep, springing to consciousness only to tell me I’d had enough to drink, and no one cared how long I could hold two dictionaries on my extended palms face up.
Me: Mom – feats of strength! Aren’t you rooting for me? Go- Stephen! Go -Stephen!
Mom: Go – to bed. You’re drunk.
Well, the joke was on her. I wheeled her to bed and there wasn’t much more she could say about it.
I always miss her, but holidays are certainly the hardest. Fortunately I have a really fantastic network of support, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank a few of them.
Let me start with Dad. A lot of things changed after mom died. My dad had to figure out what type of store sold toothpaste, how the washing machine worked and where to buy a new belt. He lost a lot of weight around that time, and I actually witnessed him try to pierce an extra hole in his now oversized belt…while wearing it…with a cork screw. He’s actually one of the smartest people I know despite that last little story.
We’d avoided the “ball-your-eyes-out” moment for a day or two when my dad asked me if I wanted to talk. I told him that I’d become accustomed to a certain amount of flattery, misguided trust, admiration and an unmeasurable amount of love from my mother over the years. He would need to pick up the slack in her absebnce. And he has. So thank you dad.
Children (Lucy and Kaya): You are the cycle of life. Your grandma KK lives on in both of you. Thank you for that daily reminder.
The cycle of life is a little confusing. Explaining birth is hard enough. Not sure who actually explained Heaven to her, but all she knows is that’s where KK now lives. In fact – she explained it to me.
Lucy: Dad. KK is in heaven.
Me: Oh yeah? Great. I hear it’s really nice there.
Lucy: Dead things go to heaven.
Me: That is what they say.
Lucy: Dogs die. And they go to heaven.
Me: Well – sure, why not?
Lucy: Car keys that don’t work go to heaven.
Me: Hmmm. I don’t know if I agree.
Lucy: If they don’t work, than they are dead. And then they go to heaven.
3 Year olds are seldom wrong, so I didn’t pick this one up.
Thank you for bringing the distraction and joy of child rearing.
My brother. My brother is one of those dudes that dodges a high-5 and goes straight for the hug. He non-discrimantly ends conversations with “I love you.”
Cable Guy: So, you’ve got HBO, Showtime and Cinemax.
Michael: Thanks. I love you.
Cable Guy: It’s gonna cost you an extra $75 a month.
Michael: Alright, fine. That sucks. I love you.
He means it. He is a real loving, and hugging dude. I think the best reason to have 2 kids is because you really need a sibling when a parent dies. He was the “Student Dr.” during the whole ordeal – something we will never be able to adequately thank him enough for. We also share a dark humor – which is remarkably helpful in the most trying of times.
Michael: I think I’m going to take mom’s car when she’s gone.
Me: You sure? It’s got cancer all over it.
Michael – I hadn’t thought about that. <pause> Yeah, I’m going to take it. Thanks for the thought. I love you.
Michael and family (wife and awesome wife’s family) – Thank you.
Wife: You win. You are basically the only thing that held this clan together. I barely raised KK during her first 3 months of life – and she’s turned out amazingly. Lucy – I’m sorry I ever meddled in your development.
For real – my wife is the best. She’s that pretty girl I walk around with and other people think “He must have accidentally got her pregnant,” or, “How is this shrimp with a hot chick? Life is so unfair.” Or, most likely of all, “I’m sure that’s her brother – kind of creepy how they hold hands and steal kisses.” It’s true – I hit the jackpot of caring, supportive and good looking women. Thanks for everything (especially being hot (just kidding (not.)))
Everyone else. I really am grateful for all my friends and family. I’ve got the best of both. Thank you for being a part of my life – past, present and future.
–The Big Avocado