What a difference a year makes!
Thanksgiving Day 2009 was such a happier occasion than Thanksgiving Day 2008.
Last year Thanksgiving Day came one week after Dad's stroke and found him in the Rehab Center, unable to speak hardly any words or form any intelligble thoughts.
It was majorly frustrating for him and for all of us to see him this way. Despite all that, most days Dad managed to keep a fairly bright outlook on things and to remain surprisingly optimistic considering how greatly things had changed for him.
However, on Thanksgiving Day last year, understandably Dad was deeply down in the dumps with discouragement and nothing Mother or I could say or do brought him any encouragement. So it was a dismal and sad day for all of us.
We were living out the irony that happens when, on a day meant to be festive and joyous/a holiday/one is struggling with negative changes in their life and finding it difficult, if not impossible to celebrate. It doesn't mean that we didn't find gratitude and thanksgiving in our hearts, but it was tough to express because of the "big elephant in the room": all that had been so recently lost.
But thanks be to God, Dad has come such a long way in this past year! The therapists who were working with him this time last year were telling us we'd be surprised how much he'd gain over time, given 6 months to a year; that they expected he'd gain back much of what he'd lost. And he HAS! Dad came home from the Rehab Center the week of Christmas and had already made much process by that time, and has continued to do so. Today he carries on conversations very well, drives the van, plays his guitars, tunes pianos and sings specials in church occasionally. It's a beautiful thing! Miraculous to see!
So it is with great joy and thankfulness in my heart that I reflect on the differences from one Thanksgiving Day to the next!
Yesterday, even though I would have loved to have celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents in Florida, instead I spend it here in Michigan with Tim, Tyler, Emily and Tim's parents and siblings. But I am grateful that Mom and Dad were able to celebrate a happy Thanksgiving Day, with a bountiful feast at their home, shared by my Uncle John and Aunt Carol, and dear friend and angel-in-residence, Gail.
And it was a joy to speak with Mom and Dad on the phone in the evening and recount the good parts about our day and the blessings we feel to be 'family'.
I hope all of you had a very Happy Thanksgiving!