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My dad, on Thanksgiving

This is from a letter from my father, which he sent to several dozen people, so I don't think he'll mind me excerpting it here. He gets one date wrong--I moved to Boston in 1987 not 1986, but that doesn't affect the meaning of this piece.



As long as we possibly could we went to NH to each of our parents homes. We moved between Rye and Belmont very early on the holiday morning with an elaborate set of plans to be fair to everyone each year. But after a while Evi's Mother moved to Franklin PA to have the vital assistance of her oldest daughter, Dotty. About that time, the ride to NH became too frightening to Evi and we had a series of 'almost getting to NH' that were very exhausting. One year when the guys were still at home, I made the Thanksgiving meal and it was the hardest work I've ever done. The decision was made-"Never Again!"

We saved for those special days and made long distant plans and dined in elegant restaurants. By 1986, both sons were living in Boston and we stayed at the Hawthorne Inn in Salem. The guys came up on the T for the celebration. Each time we did that, it became more difficult because everything was going wrong in Evi's health. Andy never saw the worst of her problems because it got tougher while he was in College and he moved west in the early 90's. But as we were driving home on the Pike from our last time in Salem as a family, Evi and Andy squabbled a bit. Quickly it got worse and it was a car full of tears. It was no one's fault but there are no lessons for living with Alzheimer's. I remember sobbing and shouting, "Stop this! It's terrible" but then realized "and it will never be this good again!" And that was the truth.

I try to be alone on all holidays because they are fiercely difficult. They are stressful enough just because of the hopes and aspirations. The assemblage of lots of good folk with different life styles and personal expectations complicates that. There are hopes and joys, and for some they are wonderful times. But given my options, I just ignore them because I don't want to put blight on good times.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
elainetyger
Dec. 31st, 2015 03:20 am (UTC)
I also eschew family gatherings on holidays. When you live alone you get used to a certain energy, and the holidays with all their expectations and baggage make the day feel all stress and no joy. It's easy to have bad flashbacks of holiday times when you are a bit player or audience member in someone else's drama in someone else's theatre. This year on Thanksgiving I rode the ambulance 8-3 and then went to a diner to eat with 2 dozen other people, and did that last part only because it was my good friend's birthday. On Christmas I walked in the park and ate at a diner with ONE friend and then rode the ambulance. New Year's Eve I will be with my brother and his girlfriend and a bunch of his friends, but they are very chill and I am not expected to enjoy myself, so maybe I actually will. My favorite day of the year is February 15 when the thoughts of on-this-day-in-personal-history come to an end.

I hope your dad gets to feel better, in general, in the near future.
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