The week of Thanksgiving, 1985 was a gloomy one. My father, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer two years before, succomed to the disease on that Monday evening. The days following were a whirl of activity, getting my brothers to NY from SC, making sure my children were cared for, being Mom's constant companion, making funeral arrangements.
Since our pastor, Carl V. S., was away for the holiday, we had the added chore of finding someone else who would officiate over the service. Fortunately, a phone call to Fred Jones, in Georgia, brought success. Fred had been the pastor of a small Baptist church in EH where Mom and Dad had attended before Fred and his family were moved to Georgia. Fred had ministered to my father while he was sick, and led Dad to his salvation in Christ. It seemed fitting that Fred would be the man for the farewell services, and we were so thankful that he would leave his duties and family holiday to meet our needs.
Through the week, I seemed to be running on nervous energy. I cleaned Mom's house, comforted her, made phone calls, and basically took care of business. Thanksgiving dinner, and also my birthday that year, was the last thing we worried about. My brothers arrived, taking up residence in their old bedroom. The Pastor arrived, and we put him into the guest room. My husband returned from his trip and took over my child care duties.
Thanksgiving dinner was pulled together without much thought, but I remember it being the same foods we have on the table annually. It was not the joyous gathering we'd enjoyed in other years, but it was a family gathering, none the less.
I found myself thanking God for having the opportunity to know and love the wonderful man who'd lived only 61 years. My heart ached to have him back at the head of the table. I longed to hold his rough hand as we circled in our thanksgiving prayer. I hurt so much that I couldn't cry.
The funeral services were held on Saturday, much later than we'd have liked, but due to the holiday and travelers, as well as scheduling at the morticians, it couldn't be helped. I remember that it was a 'good' service, as funerals go....honoring Dad. I don't remember much of what was said, however. I was catering to my mother, who seemed to be in a deep fog for most of the week. At the cemetary, I made sure that my brother was at one side of her, and my husband on the other. It's a good thing, as her knees buckled, and she would have gone to the ground, had they not been there.
Thanksgivings come every year, and the memories do, too. These days I trade the sad memories for happier ones. I remember well the man I made a Daddy on the morning after Thanksgiving 1947, who worked hard to provide for his little family and for the future of his wife. I remember that he was a patriotic veteran of WWII, serving in Italy and in North Africa. I remember his smile, and his hearty laugh, and some of his comical sayings. I remember so many things about him. I remember....and I miss him.