It wasn’t the best Thanksgiving ever… it probably wasn’t the worst either but it was a lot different. Mom was too weak from her treatments to think about fixing a big dinner. But she has hostessed Thanksgiving dinner my entire life. I literally have never had a Thanksgiving dinner anywhere but my Mom’s house. So, I told her I would come out and cook under her direction. That way it would still be at her house and her recipes… I was just to do the grunt work.
The weekend before Thanksgiving she called to say she was too weak to do the shopping either so I took that on too. She also thought it would be great if I brought Robert with me Wednesday night so he could help too (oh yeah, that’s going to help me a whole lot). She also wanted a dessert in addition to the pumpkin pie she had me get at Costco so I volunteered to make an apple crisp.
Tuesday night after I left the office I had six stops to make… Target to get new pants for Robert; Home Depot to get a new mailbox for Mom; Barnes and Noble to pick up a book I wanted to get for my aunt; CVS to get a humidifier for Mom; Hy-Vee for groceries and Toys R Us to get a little gift for Robert from Grandma. By the time I got home I was spent and still had to make the apple crisp, pack our clothes and load the Jeep for Wednesday.
I was peeling the apples for the apple crisp with my apple peeler and not paying attention. I went to pull a core off prongs when my hand slipped and I wrapped my pinkie around the blade. It was a u-shaped but and fairly deep. Oh goodie, a trip to the ER is just what the night needed. Three stitches later we were back home and I got the apple crisp done.
On Wednesday, I left the office at noon and went to pick up Robert. We were at Mom’s by 1:30pm and the fun commenced. On the agenda for Wednesday was get the potato casserole and sweet potatoes oven ready for Thursday as well as sauté all the veggies for the dressing. Mom was in a good mood. Robert was making sure everyone was entertained. I thought this would be a breeze.
Thursday morning I think it finally hit Mom she was not preparing the meal and instead of being grateful that I was there doing it she got resentful of my presence in her kitchen. It was not a fun time. At one point I thought about leaving but knew I’d just have to come back to do the dishes. I could do NOTHING right. My Aunt Sue and Uncle Ross got there and she picked up on the tension but knew there was nothing she could really do. By the time dinner made it to the table I was close to tears so I excused myself under the guise of Robert needing something.
Everyone said the food was good… I thought so too. Everyone had seconds. Soon after we finished eating my aunt and uncle had to get back on the road home before it got dark. I sent Jim and Robert home so I could start tackling the dishes. Three dishwasher loads later they were done.
In the meantime Mom and I had some time to talk and I told her I knew she didn’t mean to but she had really hurt my feelings. She was truly surprised and apologized. I know that physically she feels horrible and it is frustrating the heck out of her not being able to do what she wants. We were able to laugh a bit and talk about some more serious stuff, like dying. I cried the whole way home. I missed my Aunt Barb more than ever. If she had been there it would have been different… at the very least Mom would have been yelling at both of us and we’d have each other as a buffer. She would have stayed until the dishes were done. She would have let me know in the moment that everything was fine.
I talked to my Aunt Sue tonight and she told me, “I don’t want to upset you, but I see so much of Barb in you. I couldn’t have done what you did. You’re so caring. It’s easy to see how close you two were.” I really appreciate that. Sue and I have never been particularly close. We get along but we’ve just never had a lot of time together. We’ve gotten a lot closer this year. She relies on me calling her with updates on Mom that contain the real story instead of what Mom is willing to tell.
So, we survived. It wasn’t horrible but Normal Rockwell will never paint it. God willing, next year we’ll get back to normal.