Waiting For the Guests to Arrive

I’ve been staying with my almost 95-year-old father, not to take care of him so much as to look out for him. Last year, the two of us spent a quiet Thanksgiving. He wasn’t up to company and neither was I since it was the first Thanksgiving after my life mate’s death. This year, a couple of my brothers (who perhaps had no more exciting plans) decided they wanted to get together for dinner, and one fast-talking brother conned . . . er, sweet-talked . . . my father into letting them come here. This brother also negotiated a deal where up to six people could stay for two hours. (Which worked out to be three brothers and their mates.) If you knew how quickly that many people would wear out a 95-year-old recluse, you’d understand what a great concession my brother wangled. (BTW, I really admire this brother’s negotiating skills. I once saw him talk a clerk at Office Max into giving him an extra l0% discount, and the guy agreed to it for no reason that I could see.)

The last time I spent Thanksgiving with any of my siblings was four years ago, a couple of weeks before my mother died. We’d come to spend a final Thanksgiving with her, but she was too sick and too weak to join us. Still she was glad we came. She always wanted her children to be close, and she worried that after her death, we would drift apart. Now here I am, in her house, and she is not here.

She’s just one of the guests who can’t come because of cosmic impossibilities. My next youngest sibling died the year before she did, and her grief at his dying helped bring on her own death. And then there’s my life mate. I doubt he would have come (he couldn’t the last time because of his own illness), but it saddens me that he doesn’t have the choice. Makes me even sadder that after the holiday, I won’t be going home to him.

I set the table today to lessen tomorrow’s commotion, and I used my mother’s china. (Sorry, BBB. Paper plates just won’t cut it!! And yes, I will do the dishes.) I want the day to be special because how many more Thanksgivings can my father have? And if he’s blessed with a dozen more, who knows whether even my brother’s vast negotiating skills will gain such concessions again.

And it pleased me to be able to do this small thing.

Afterward, I was overcome with a burst of grief (to be honest, it wasn’t so much grief as plain old feeling sorry for myself.) My brothers will be at dinner with their mates, and I won’t be with mine. Still, I had him for all those years, and for that, I am truly grateful.

(And never mind trying to figure out how many siblings I had. For most of my years there were too many, and now there aren’t enough.)