I understand I’m not the first child to have buried both of their parents; it’s just that this is the first Holiday in which this is the reality for me. My father passed in July of 2010, and I buried my mother 5 days ago. The realization of what this means has finally come home to roost in my head and in my heart.

I’m basically an orphan; for that is what a child is who has no parents. For whatever reason, no matter your age; when your parents are no longer with you – you are an orphan.

I’ve spent this Thanksgiving morning remembering…  Mother, Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Grandfathers, cousins with whom I have shared a Thanksgiving meal throughout my life. Sweet, funny, precious relatives who no longer walk on this earth, who made me laugh, taught me to cook, insisted I read, and made me a fan of the Washington Redskins for the entirety of my life. Those Thanksgiving with them have been long gone, but on this Thanksgiving morning I feel the sadness of not having these people in my life more than ever.

I wonder… Is Mother with all of these people on this day? Are they gathered around a table somewhere oohing and awwing over Aunt Jean’s turkey? Is there a mincemeat pie for my father, are they singing campfires songs as they do the dishes, and is Uncle Mike enjoying his 7 and 7 as he watches the Redskins play? Is there 40’s music playing quietly in the background, and are they sitting around the table drinking their coffee out of bone china cups reserved strictly for Holidays?  I think about these things.

Susan and I have a wonderful family – There are kids and grand-kids and lots of love to go around. We gather together, we eat too much, we watch the games, we spoil the children – it’s a traditional Thanksgiving. I’m blessed to have such a family.

I am also blessed to have friends in my life who love me and support me – no matter what.  They have been there for me with calls and texts and messages and love and hugs. Their kindness and compassion assure me daily of all that is right and good with the world. I can’t imagine my life without these people - these friends – in it. 

Still – the reality on this Thanksgiving morning that I am an orphan is a new obstacle that I have to face.  Granted, it’s an obstacle that every child has to endure and learn to negotiate on their own terms, however, this is now my reality – my obstacle – my life.

And - Just because these relatives have died – have I stopped being a daughter?  A Granddaughter?  A niece?  A cousin?  I think about these things and I wonder…

Tomorrow with be better and the day after that better still – The reality is that our lives can be over in the blink of an eye – we must live every moment and be thankful every day. Orphaned or not – Life goes on, and I have so much to be thankful for…

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Comment by Zanelle on November 23, 2012 at 12:18pm
We used to say you don't grow up until both your parents are gone. I am still my mom's little girl as she is 94. I am tired of being the kid but I know if she goes before me I will be the old one and I hope I can do it all with dignity and love. You sound strong and brave. Holidays are tough.
Comment by JMac1949 Today on November 23, 2012 at 1:37pm

Good post... and like you wrote, we've all got a lot to be thankful for - orphans and all.

Comment by Phyllis on November 23, 2012 at 4:47pm

I ponder stuff like that, wondering about everyone that has experienced it and now they are the elder in the family and how life flows. I wish you the best as you figure it out.

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