This has been the most common question of my week: “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” My reply is: “In the morning I am going to visit my mother at the cemetery.” Words I never thought I would speak, but hence the truth.
My dear mother passed away on a Thanksgiving morning. Never in a million years could you have told me that on that day of that year it would be her time to go. I have made as many trips to Mount Calvary these past two years as I have to Wegmans (which, at 46 with two teenagers, is a feat).
This past year, my mind has been filled with memories of my mother for most of my waking hours. Growing up, she was absolutely the holy grail of our family. Everyone communicated through her, looked out for her and went to her for advice. She was my twice-a-day phone call.
As crazy as this sounds, even though we all know this day eventually arrives, I was still in disbelief when it did. However, my subconscious knew that her dying on this day, on Thanksgiving Day, held a message for me.
So, these past 12 months, I could not shake this one simple question: Why did my mother pass away on Thanksgiving?
My mother was in constant motion. She was a single parent with two children, worked full time and always carved out some time to volunteer. On top of this overflowing plate, my mother had suffered with rheumatoid arthritis since she was 26. For those of you who are not familiar with this debilitating disease, it’s like waking up in the morning and telling yourself to “go” and all the joints in your body say, “stop.”
My mother was a sharp lady. She was smart and had big ideas. Her body at times crippled her ambition later in her life, because sometimes “stop” lasted for more than a little while. But for the most part, she was a silent struggler.
My mother was never a complainer. Arthritis did not define her. It was something she dealt with, and growing up she did not put this on my brother and me. She was “go” all the way. Her selflessness was remarkable and admirable.
One day, driving home from work, I was overcome with incredible sadness. I missed her so terribly that I had to pull off to the side of the road because hot tears were pouring from my eyes and I could not see the road in front of me. While sitting in my car for what seemed to be a good hour feeling sorry for myself, a new thought came to me that suddenly chased away some of the bitter sadness. I finally had the answer to my question: My mother was grateful every day.
She was just plain thankful all of the time. It wasn’t a once-a-year reflection for her; it was a yearlong recognition. She was grateful for it all – her children, her parents, her brother, her family, her friends, her job, her volunteer work. Everyday gratefulness. The thankfulness in Thanksgiving was her gratefulness through the year.
This thought made perfect sense. It is a good lesson and one to share.
Meanwhile, I will stop by the cemetery this morning because, as much as it has become my routine, I enjoy going to her spot. And in my own way, I will let my family and friends know that I am grateful for all of them.
Somehow I think my mother will always be my guidepost in my thoughts.