Saturday, November 27, 2010

What remains...

We went decidedly low-key for our Thanksgiving celebration this year. I made one simple decision to yield to whatever the moments were going to be.  Yet I tiptoed around each corner now knowing when that "missing Dad ache" would try to sneak up on me.

Dad was always the one to call weeks before Thanksgiving to see what "the plan" would be.  He would tell me whatever we decided was fine with him, but then secretly hint that if it were HIS decision, he'd like a home cooked meal at our house, but no pressure or anything.

As a Daddy's girl?  I did my level best to grant his wish.  Afterall,  he 'd eat like there was no tomorrow, and be sure you knew he thought it was the best dinner ever.  But his wish, had to encompass my mom's wish.  Due to her digestive challenges, she required strict adherence to low-fat, gluten free, sodium free, and spice free... or bland and boring.  It was always a tightrope act planning the meal and I teetered between wanting to soar, but feeling like I was one stumble away from an undignified fall.

So I avoided the whole cooking scenario this year.    I opted for dinner at a local hotel.   My kids will probably grow up thinking the way to celebrate holidays is to go to a buffet... sigh.  But while there was still that familiar ache of one less place setting at the dinner table, I didn't associate Holiday Inn with Dad.  The threat of the grief grenade exploding in the midst of dinner,  avoided.

It was snowing and windy the day of Thanksgiving.  I think I gave thanks three times for "safely" arriving at the hotel for dinner.  We ate a delicious meal and headed for home.  While the streets were fairly devoid of any heavy traffic, it was crossing back into Moorhead that we encountered the big semi truck.  It kicked up all kinds of snow and left us in a cloud of a billowy snow tornado.

Rick gripped the steering wheel as the truck swayed in the wind.  There is a collective holding of breath when visibility is reduced already, and a big truck is crowding your lane as it attempts to pass you.  It seemed like an eternity as we clipped along locked going the same speed, the truck just slightly ahead of us.  As we were about to exit the truck finally pulled ahead of us.  With out headlights beaming at the back of the truck, in plain sight,  was the location the truck hailed from... New Salem, ND... my Dad's beloved hometown.  We all got a huge chuckle.  Leave it to Dad to get our attention and remind us he is never far from us.

But that isn't the end.  I knew it would catch me at some moment.  Walking into mom's apartment and seeing Dad's empty chair was when it grew hard for me to swallow. I will forever miss not having Dad there, waiting to hear about my day. As the heaviness set in, perhaps as a means of distraction, I picked up my phone.

And there you all were, all of my friends, and blog peeps, with emails, and texts, and fb messages, thinking of me. Your kind thoughts, words, and prayers lifted me up and held me together. No, Dad, wasn't there anymore to share in the moments of my day. But in yielding to those moments, underneath the sadness and loss, what I realize remains... is love.


  1. That truck pulling in front of you, with your dads hometown on the back, that's very interesting. I'm pretty sure your dad was looking down on you that day.

  2. This was my first year in many years that I did not make it home for Thanksgiving. My Dad has been fighting lung cancer for almost a year now, so he and my Mom decided to just have a quiet day. It was hard for me not to be there with them this year and although we talked on the phone, there was still a sense of loneliness for me. I may not be experiencing the same ache as you, but I do in some way know how you are feeling Vicky.

    I love the truck story! I believe your Dad will always let you know in little ways that he is still with you.

    Hugs! Eileen

  3. Wow Vicky, that is just neat about the truck. I was thinking about you on Thanksgiving. My hugs to you dear.

  4. Mark, I think so too :)

    Eileen, thank you, I am most certain you do know that exact same feeling. I think when our parents are ill and vulnerable we begin a process of slow realization that our moments of today may never return to what they once were... its a difficult journey. I will pray for both you and your dad today :) Hugs to you...

    Heather, and how is your dad these days? Thanks for thinking of me :)

  5. Vicky, I couldn't read this without crying.....and on Thanksgiving Day, I thought of you...and knew that your heart would be heavy. I love you....I don't know what else to do right now...except to tell you that.

  6. Beatuiful, honest post. I love the way you describe the balance of wanting to soar but feeling one step away from the tumble!

    While the sadness of losing your day will be with you for always, it does sound like you are now starting new traditions, new ways of looking at the holiday. And I think that's what life gives us, these new ways of looking at the world when our world is so different.

    Peace to you!

  7. I totally understand your heartfelt post about your dad and the Thanksgiving holiday. With my dad's bladder cancer battle, I too will be faced with the same situation. As my dad lives out his days/years, we girls will love him more and more every day. God sure knows how to bring families together in a stronger way.

  8. Your Dad does watch over you at all times :-) I extend a warm hug and wish you some more strength to overcome the mountain of sadness. Take care

  9. Sweet post, Vickie. I appreciate your word combo: grief grenade. I wonder if there will be an end to the detonation (for both of us).

    Mom died 2 days before Thanksgiving and I'm sure I will carry this forward to all my remaining Thanksgiving days.

  10. Thank goodness that Love remains. I think of the verse in the Bible that talks about all the gifts and that three remain when the others will pass away..."Faith, Hope and Love...and the greatest of these is love."

    Both of my parents are gone now and i miss them dearly, but am so thankful that the love they shared is forever in my heart.


  11. Aw Vicky. It is good to talk and you must talk as much as you can with your Mom and kids and husband and realatives. Everyone has things to remember and say and they must be said.
    And tears must be shed and they will be shed for a very long time.
    Trust me. I still miss mine.
    Some kids run from old people but I always loved them. I never minded anything they said or did because I knew they meant well.

    Your Mom looks great ! :)

  12. Sending you so much love. You're amazing. Look at that gorgeous picture. Your Dad's love is working wonders in all of you. I feel it from my Dad. Dads are still holding us tight and keeping us safe even when in Heaven. That thought helps me when I feel like that scared little girl sometimes.

    Hugs to you always.


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