I am not a huge Black Friday shopper. My mom is. My mom and aunts and grandma would be in Florida for Thanksgiving and be up at 4am/5am at Walmart and then on to the mall. When I would join them while I was in college, I always told them that I was sleeping in and I’d call Dad when I was awake and dressed and ready to meet them. Not a bad story all round, maybe even a little funny.
But there is a sad side to that. This time of the year has become hard for my family because it is at Thanksgiving that my family experiences losses two years in a row. The year that I cited above, on my way to meet my mom, Dad got a call from my aunt, telling us that my grandfather had passed away. It was a fast and very painful five months, Papa having been diagnosed with a brain tumor only that July. It cast a pall over the entire day and I was home a week later for the viewing and funeral.
The following year, we lost one of my aunts around the same time, her four-year battle with cancer finally over.
So, while Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, it also carries a shadow of loss with it for me. I miss my grandfather; the last picture I have with him was my baptsim the summer he was diagnosed. I was baptized before going on a 9-week missions trip to Russia. I’m wrapped in a towel, leaning against my grandfather, with his arm around me, and my cousin’s sippy cup in his other hand. It is one of the few pictures that I have with my grandfather and the last, but definitely the most beautiful. I wish he was here to play with his great-granddaughter, see her pictures and the videos that I take of her.
I miss my aunt Norma. I miss her ambition and her ingenuity and her love of finer things. She survived Hurricane Ivan and the devestation that it rained upon the Cayman Islands and worked tirelessly afterward to make sure that the residents got what they needed (she worked at the Port Authority) and, after such heroic giving of herself, her health failed. I was in grad school at the time and the night she passed away, I felt something in my heart, like a tugging to say goodbye. So, as I laid in my bed, I spoke softly, just for my aunt Norma and did what I had not had the chance to do for my grandpa: I said goodbye. Sure enough, the next day, my mother called to tell me that Norma had passed away.
This year, I am thankful for health and safety for my family and for the love that they have given me.