Delayed Thanks: Thanksgiving 2012

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Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Growing up, it was the only time I’d get to see my mom’s side of the family, who was spread out all over the country from Michigan to Louisiana to Arizona. We would have our big meal on Thursday at my cousin’s house, with extended families sometimes in excess of 30 people, and then Christmas with just us on Saturday. I loved it.

A few years ago, though, my paternal grandfather passed the day before we were supposed to leave for Ohio. He and I were very close, and I got so worried that it was going to keep me from seeing the rest of my family, who I knew would pull me through it. I still loved Thanksgiving, but it had a different feel. Last year, my uncle’s brother passed on the same day.

This year, though, has been the worst. A few weeks ago, my aunt (who had been sick with cancer for a little over a year) went to the hospital for some treatment and was admitted when her heart went into an irregular rhythm. After a week in the cardiac ICU, she was moved to a step-down unit, before being released. While home with my grandpa on her second day home, her heart went into a-fib again, and she was brought back to the hospital. She was again discharged in time to go to Disney with her family, but talking to my cousin, she wasn’t feeling well at all. She was put into another ICU in Orlando, and once she was strong enough, the family came back on a medical jet.

They attempted to keep her comfortable at home (my family is one M.D. short of opening our own practice; full of nurses, a physical therapist, respiratory therapist, and nurse practitioner) but it got too much and after a few more days in ICU, was placed in a hospice house. Hospice was great. Full of caring nurses that my cousin and aunt had actually had a students, we were allowed to come and go as we pleased, bring food, spend the night – seriously, I’ve never felt so cared for in a medical situation, and I wasn’t even the patient.

By the time I arrived, she wasn’t speaking anymore, but she did acknowledge me a few times. The night she passed, I had brought containers full of food for my uncle and cousins (I’m totally Callie Torres in times of crisis – feed everyone everything,) and the last thing I said to her was “I brought food for everyone. We are taking care of them. I love you.”


So, at least she knows that.

I love you, Aunt Dorothy. Thanks for being the one to buy me my first bra and talking me into trying a thong. Thanks for spending the day with me at Miami University when I thought I wanted to go there and for taking me to eat Indian food for the first time. You are missed. You are loved. Thank you.

At Old Smoky Distillery in Gatlinburg, TN, this past August. White Lightning did not agree with her.