Thursday, November 25, 2010


When I was maybe 10 or 11 years old, my Mom was in the hospital during Thanksgiving. I have no idea why; but I think when she comes over today, I will ask her. The cumulative strain of my parents' marriage was reaching the breaking point by then, but this is something I only realize now as I look back.

We went to see my Mom in the hospital. In order to be allowed into her room, I had to lie and say that I was older than I was. I was tall for my age, so I imagine this was not a stretch. Plus my mother was a hospital nurse and I'm certain she was in the hospital where she worked, so likely they were cutting us some slack. I don't remember a single detail of that incident, except that I had to falsify my age. How strange.

Next, we went to eat Thanksgiving at the local Denny's. This time, I was to lie that I was younger than my actual age so I could for free. The waitress was not especially friendly and my Dad went off on her as only he could. He wrote a short novel on the back of our ticket complaining of all her shortcomings and missteps and errors then demanded that the Manager be summoned to our table. The manager apologized profusely as any Denny's manager would while the waitress stood nearby, looking anything but penitent.

I could not believe her "screw you" attitude. I had never seen anyone defy my Father. (I certainly never would.)

The only other detail I remember about this particular Thanksgiving is reacting to the strain of it all later. I sobbed quietly in the back of the car on the ride home from the restaurant, then attempted to defend my emotions when my father inquired after me.

About this time last year, I was cutting my Father's food for him at the facility where he lived. It was a big celebration, with the family members of all the residents eating together. He wasn't complaining that day about the food or the service, totally absorbed by eating, the only thing he seemed to attend to the last year of his life. I don't think by then he had "forgotten" who I was. He knew that he knew me, but he couldn't remember why.

Funny isn't it ... the things that stand out in your holiday memories?

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