On Thursday our news feeds will be full of happy families and friends celebrating Thanksgiving together. Before my mom got sick, I loved to see these photos and would post them too, but with her illness came a cloud over celebrations I used to love. It was difficult for me to see others enjoying a holiday that had now become stressful for my family. Over the years transitioning my mom into full-time care and experiencing these holidays without her, we found a new normal, but it took some time to feel comfortable with that.
My mom was a big Thanksgiving person - always decorating the house early, baking, watching the Thanksgiving parade every year...so it was hard to enjoy the holiday without her when she first got sick and subsequent holidays as she progressed. Our family is big on celebrating, so we tried really hard to recreate the holidays as perfectly as they had been in the past. As you can imagine, this did not go well. The year before her last Thanksgiving outside of her assisted living, she made a pie - who knows what was in it. It was more of a soup than a pie. My mom was trying to set the pies up on a buffet and voila! The soup pie fell down the BACK of it, spilling all over the floor and wall. The last year we were with her on Thanksgiving, she had become so aggressive that once we were done eating dinner she was trying to eat desserts with her hands, and starting shoving us when we tried to stop her. We had to leave early, and thankfully our family was very gracious about our desire to have her with us. It was not the best of times, to say the least, but now looking back I can (kind of) laugh about it.
This is all to say, holidays will change with this disease. Adjusting to celebrations without my mom has been the hardest of all, but we remember her now in new ways. For instance, I am going to make her apple crisp for dessert on Thursday, and I know we will all be thinking of her. Even now, she is not eating, so we cannot bring her some of her favorite desserts or leftovers, but we can still visit with her and show her pictures. Constant adjustments are required! This year I am especially thankful for her love for the holidays - that she made them so special for our family. I am thankful for her delicious pie and crisp recipes. I am thankful for my family I still have who are well, and for friends who love and support my family every day. I am thankful that we are still able to find some comfort in Thanksgiving and our traditions my mom made for our family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your day as best you can, and I am hopeful that if you are amidst the stress of caregiving you will still get some pie.