An unconventional Thanksgiving holiday for me. My husband and I are here in Arizona, spending it with my father in his new home. The one he barely had time to share with his bride Eileen, who succumbed to cancer a few months after they were married. I planned to cook my father an old-fashioned turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. To gather at his table of round with my husband and brother, where together, we would share a prayer of Thanksgiving.
When my husband and I arrived late last night, my father hugged me tight. His home was neat and tidy. A silver tray of grapes and crackers of wheat plus yellow cheeses sat on top of a swirling black and gray granite counter.
“No cooking for you,” my father stated,” surprising me with a slight smile. “We’ve been invited to Troy and Ellen’s for Thanksgiving dinner.” I was taken aback at this news. Troy and Ellen was part of Eileen’s immediate family. I had been looking forward to spending a quiet holiday with my father, having flown all the way from St. Louis to Arizona. Still, Dad was part of Eileen’s family too, and I was selfish not to share him.
“That will be nice, Dad, I mumbled,” munching on a cracker while pulling a stool up to the kitchen counter.
After tumbling into bed last night, I pondered over the coming Thanksgiving Day.
I realized how lucky my father was to have Eileen’s family embrace him as part of their own. Her grandchildren often stopped to visit after school, where they shared stories of love that brought smiles to his face. Eileen’s daughter occasionally dropped off a casserole covered in silver foil before going to work, or one of her sons-in-law repaired something for him in his home. Sometimes, Eileen’s family members took my dad out for an evening of karaoke, where he sang his troubles away until another day.
In a few hours my Thanksgiving dinner will be shared with Eileen’s family. It is an unexpected blessing that my father has remained part of her extended family. For that I am truly thankful.
Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours,
*in memory of Eileen 1939-2016