Thanksgiving by Donna

When we decided this week’s blog theme would be about giving thanks, I immediately began to think of things to write about. I was in my thanksgiving list making mode and immensely enjoying it. Oh yes, add that to the list. That’s a good one. Don’t forget about her. Put him on the list. But then it came time to actually write today’s blog and something completely different came out on the page.

I lost my mom to a very long and difficult battle with cancer over a year ago. The holidays were her favorite time of the year. Last year I endured most of the time in a grief-induced coma and tried to make the days as invisible as possible. No Christmas tree, no decorations, no lights. This year, things are a little better, but a day doesn’t go without me missing mom. Especially at this time of the year.

My mom was a people person and she loved to talk to people…anyone at anytime. As a introverted, shy teenager, it was mortifying to have to wait on her to learn the family history of every checkout person in the grocery store (usually accompanied by photos). Over time, I grew to appreciate her genuine caring for those around her. She truly was interested in the Walmart greeter’s grandchildren and the mailman’s sore knee.

She believed dinner time was family time—she cooked every meal and we were there to share it as a family. When we were growing up, she made most of our clothes by hand. She made every birthday a special occasion—making our bed for us that day, cooking our favorite dinner that night and even baking our birthday cake in any shape we wanted. As we grew older, we grew more obnoxious with our choices for birthday cake decorations trying to stump her, but she rose to the occasion even when my sister jokingly chose a penguin shaped cake for her birthday. Mom never let us down, even when it came to that penguin cake.

Mom taught me to be strong, independent and hard working. It was ok to be feisty, and opinionated and smart. She sent me to school reading and, although I never saw her read a book for enjoyment, she continually fostered my passion for reading and writing. Although she never attended college, she worked outside the home most of our lives and constantly modeled how to balance the two. Now, as an adult woman who is so aware of how hard this is to accomplish, I look back in wonder at how she was able to do it all.

Mom was never afraid to speak her mind, but she tempered her words with wisdom and humor. One of the things we treasured most about her was that sense of humor. We loved to tease her, and she was the first to laugh at herself. One of the things we teased her about was her difficulty with names. She was always mixing up names. When my sister was in high school, she had two friends—Stacy Tarver and Cindy Tracy—and mother combined the names into one fictitious friend named “Stacy Tracy.” For the longest time, Mom would ask if Stacy Tracy was going along to various events and it took us forever to convince her that no such person existed.

But the most important legacy Mom gave us was the real-life, day to day model of a marriage. She married her childhood sweetheart at eighteen and loved him every day of her life. It wasn’t a storybook romance, but a real life example of a relationship that grew stronger every year. Mom and Dad lived out their vows every day—in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health—‘til death parted them. I think there is probably no greater gift to your children, than to know how much their parents love each other.

It is unimaginable to think the world today exists without my Mom. I talked to her almost every week, sometimes every day. We talked about every aspect of our lives—our hopes, our fears, our heartaches, our dreams. She had an uncanny sense of when something was bothering me or when something was wrong. It was not uncommon for her to call and say, “You were on my mind so much today—what’s going on?” The pain I feel when I realize I will never again talk to her…see her…laugh with her… is only lessened by the deep sense of gratitude for her presence in my life. I am who I am, because of her.

So during this week of Thanksgiving, I ask you to give the gift of kindness —to someone you know or to someone you only meet in passing. Talk to a stranger. Call your child. Reach out to someone who needs you. Holidays can be a difficult time for so many.

And, Mom, thank you.


Thank you, Donna. I can see, from your description, so much of your mom in you. And I'm very thankful for that.

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