Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Holidays

Just so you know, this is no's just reality. Things change when you have a ill spouse. They just do. If you are a caregiver, you've seen how what used to be and what is - are sometimes two very different things.

This year, Thanksgiving was a bit strange for us. My brother and his family weren't able to be here. They recently moved 1000 miles away and they just weren't able to juggle a long drive or an expensive plane trip here. My sister and her family were spending Thanksgiving with her hubby's parents this year. My daughter was still not well and slept ALL day. I only saw her twice, I think. Maybe just when I went in to her room to see if she was breathing and if she was running a fever.

So this year, we had two grandmas, both who have lost their husbands in the past 2-3 years, my hubby and I, our four children and our future daughter in law. A small group compared to Thanksgivings past.

Dear Hubby told me on Thanksgiving morning that he had a difficult time breathing the night before. The turkey was in the oven most of the night cooking and meat odors affect his breathing. That should have been a warning to me of how he would feel that day, but I went along blissfully unaware. As we sat down to eat dinner, Dear Hubby became weaker and weaker and finally asked to be fed the rest of his meal. As soon as he finished his last bite, he wanted to be put to bed. Dear Son helped get his dad into bed and we cleaned up the meal without his presence.

Mom left immediately after dinner to spend the rest of the day with her friend, Mrs. H, who is in the nursing home. My MIL stayed for a while and visited and then had to leave to spend time with her family, Dear Hubby's brother and uncle....who were both having meals at their house.

I visited with my two sons and future daughter in law for several hours. It was so unusual. Thanksgiving at our house in the past has been everyone stays, we sing, we play games, we drink coffee, we laugh and cut up and we have to MAKE PEOPLE LEAVE!!! No one wants to leave because we have such a wonderful time.

I suppose the reason that I am writing this is to remember. Maybe this is going to be the new normal for holidays, or maybe it was just a quirky situation. Maybe Christmas will be family and fun...but it is what it is.

Being a caregiver, we have to learn to roll with it and adapt. Adapting is easier for some than others....and let me say, practice makes perfect. The more we adapt, the more we are able to see that it really is ok. We have to learn to lower our expectations, or perhaps remove them altogether. The main thing is that we take what time we have a use it as best we can. That may mean we only get to spend time together at the dinner table this year....but who knows what next year will bring??? I am grateful that my children were home this year, even if one was sick all day. At least she was here.

The main thing to remember about holidays is this: relationships are what matter. Our health may change, our finances can be unstable, sometimes a dish is ruined, or bad weather strikes. What is important are our relationships with one another. As we sat at the table this year, it was wonderful knowing that we each loved each other. We accepted each other, and we treasured time together.

We don't know what the future holds, but we know that love is all that really matters. This year, did I love my family? Not for what they can do, because we know that changes. But for who they are? Yeah, it was a good Thanksgiving. After all, we do have much to be thankful for.


W. Latane Barton said...

Bless your heart.. I sure hope Christmas time will be a better time for you all, especially your dear hubby. Our thanksgiving was quiet too. I guess there comes a time in ones life that things are just slower and quieter.

Erin said...

Man, I missed old times so bad!!! When it was our family...all of us. It was one of the BEST days of the year. *tears* Oh well... *sigh*