“We have a lot to be thankful for,” my 90-year-old sister Rosemary said when she called me on my birthday this week. She had kept the pulling of her upper teeth a secret from her kids, but the procedure went well and the upper plate was ready in record time the very same day. She was grateful for that and many other things.
She had ended up with a blood infection a year or so ago when a couple of teeth were pulled, so she was nervous despite changing dentists and being certain to have antibiotic preparation this time. She did not want her daughter down the street to know because Gloria would have wanted to go with her to support her. Because Gloria's daughter was recovering from a double mastectomy, Rosemary felt it was more important that Gloria focus on helping Jennifer without feeling conflict. My sister has always been an inspiration to me, and once more both her gratefulness and her independence were setting a good example for me as I am entering the frail elderly stage of life. Although we can't sleep together in our childhood bedroom any more while we giggle or she gives me advice, I still gain wisdom from her through letters and phone calls. I am very thankful for her.
After Gerald's brother Keith's hospitalizations, we recently were able to meet Keith and Barbara down at the Lake of Egypt restaurant for Friday night fish. We do little social activities these days, and this was a time of celebration that Keith is much improved. We are very thankful. A couple Friday nights later, I came in from Katherine's and was expecting us to eat one of our usual hurried-up simple suppers, and Gerald said his brother Garry and Vera were coming up for fish at Lake of Egypt. Would we like to meet them? We did and that too was a lovely visit. We are thankful for Garry and Vera.
We came home early from our time in Freeport so we could visit my only brother and wife in the middle of the state on our way home. It is no longer as easy a drive up to Mattoon as it used to be, and Jim and Vivian can't jump in the car and drive down here as in the past. My big brother was my hero as I was growing up, and some of my best childhood adventures were with him and our cousin Jack down at Mr. Airy Farm. Then when he came back from service, he gave me good advice as a teenager, and I liked watching his and Vivian's romance develop into marriage. Jim and I like to reminisce on the phone, but seeing the two of them in person was so much better. They were a wonderful support when our parents were still alive and then helping afterwards. So that visit was especially important to me. and I am so grateful for them and all they have meant down through the years.
If I counted correctly, Gerald and I now have 24 in our immediate family and one on the way, and I am extremely grateful for each family member. Although they were not with us on Thursday, we were thankful for the Archibald gang who traveled duet with Vickie from Texas and arrived Monday night.
Tuesday was a spectacular day with the three great grandsons all over the place “driving tractors, driving tractors, driving tractors” as 6-year-old Payton said when he stopped long enough to eat something mid-morning. Maddux and Aidan were also driving whatever they could find. And the lime carried in the house from their tennis shoes, which they are wonderful to remove at the door, showed proof that the lime pile Gerald provides for their digging was not neglected. Their dad Bryan was kept busy sweeping up. Tara reorganized clothes for their family so they could leave early Wednesday for the long drive up to Chicago area to visit Bryan's family. Gerald has been clearing trees and burning them along the edge of a field, so he created a giant bonfire, which was beautiful, and the boys roasted marshmallows. The Taylors--Brian, Mary Ellen, Trent, and Brianna-- came over and ate supper with us, and Trent and Brianna had great fun playing with the three boys.
When I walked out of my bedroom Wednesday morning, my birthday started with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” from Rick and Cecelie as they had arrived the night before shortly after I had gone to bed. Soon Vickie was presenting me with a gaily wrapped special wall picture especially chosen because she knew I would love it because of the birds. The day continued with greetings and remembrances and ended with Brian and Mary Ellen bringing me and Gerald birthday supper.
Gerald helped me with the turkey getting it from the fridge where it had thawed for four days. (I really have trouble now lifting a 20 pound turkey although I managed to get it from the store and home.) He went even further and pulled that plastic thing-a-ma-jig that unkind men put in the turkey's rear cavity. Of course, that part is never completely thawed. Gerald found out I was not exaggerating when I carried on about how hard that is to remove. Tom Turkey was panned and put back in the fridge for Gerald to put in the oven when he got up the next morning. Since Vickie and Mary Ellen were doing everything else for our dinner, I went to bed early. Of course, Vickie had also been at her mother's a lot and was busy making food for the Johnson dinner Thursday night at her brother Louie and Chris's house. On Thanksgiving morning once I made the dressing, I was able to relax and read!
We had 15 at our Thanksgiving Day table, and we certainly missed the 10 not present. It was Gerry's first Thanksgiving not with us, but he was busy with his new hunting operation on the Kennedy Ranch next to King Ranch in South Texas. Brian did an excellent job carving the turkey, which had always been Gerry's job. Jeannie could not come because she was sick, and I had to fight being distraught about that. I soothed myself by knowing how important it was for her to finally get some rest and recover. And I understand that she has. Since she will be in the full swing of things again on Monday, that is good. Knowing that Geri Ann is finishing her degree this term and will be with us at Christmas time kept me from too deeply grieving her absence although we all felt bad that snow in Oregon had prevented her and friends from the trip they had planned. And I had to be proud and happy Leslie had rehearsal for her upcoming Christmas tour she was chosen for. I figured that Mike may have been on duty. Whether he was or not, I felt pride and gratitude that he had accomplished this career move.
One big event Thanksgiving Day was the arrival of Josh and Erin Simons from Belton, Texas. They had started up the day before after Erin's doctor exam; they were excited because their baby is now far enough along to have fingers and toes. They have a girl's name chosen, but soon we were challenged to find a boy's name that Josh likes since he is choosing the boy's name. Our college kids got into that and the next hour or so was spent calling out and debating boy names.
Another highlight was that Katherine was able to come out for dinner with the help of an excellent aide. Getting to sit at the table and visit with her was a special treat.
Cecelie and her college cousins Brianna, Trent, Sam, and her teacher brother Elijah were in and out all week either sleeping (??) here or at Mary Ellen's. Well, they do sleep, but often most of it is in the morning. And they shop and go to the movies and watch movies and find numerous ways to entertain themselves. They also thoroughly enjoy playing with the Archibald boys. Sam got to visit with his little niece, and the photos he took of her were adorable. Of course, we had a brief visit with Anna once before she and Sam joined the other young adults downstairs. People also had individual plans and were in and out eating at their favorite places. Add to this mix, five granddogs, who all stayed in Gerald's shop when they were not out running and enjoying themselves, the very good week sometimes became somewhat of a blur.
Bryan ended staying up in the Chicago area since this coming week is one he needs to be at his firm's headquarters, so Tara bravely drove with the three boys back to the farm last night. To her surprise and joy, they quickly tumbled into bed the minute they arrived. Today has been another busy day of play for the boys, and Tara was getting them packed to drive back to Texas as soon as their cousin Kinsley's birthday party was over this evening.
Vickie had brought much food back to Woodsong from the Johnson feast and put it in the fridge in the garage. Trent was working today and Sam had gone back to Marion. Elijah, Rick and Cecelie got on the road for the long trip upstate. But I think there were 12 of us at lunch who ate food from our holiday dinner combined with Vickie's yummy left-overs. Then we had to hug goodbye to Josh and Erin.
After every one left tonight, I took a remaining pecan pie to put in the freezer for Christmas, and there was most of Vickie's delicious ice-cream cake with chocolate cookies though out. With the abundance of food, we had forgotten it was there. So that too is ready for Christmas.
As my sister said, we have so very much to be thankful for. I am so sorry that food and shelter and safety and family are not there for everyone. Let's try to make that happen for others when we can.