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Friday, November 23, 2007

A Thankful Thanksgiving...

I confess that I am a sucker for scenes in movies where the director has led you down a path and suddenly, almost out of nowhere, a single scene causes such an emotional stir that even the manliest of men - even me - succumbs to the Kleenex moment. I think of the John Hughes movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles where at the very end, after all the turmoil Steve Martin has gone through with John Candy he invites him to his home for Thanksgiving.

There is nothing spectacular about it, but maybe the music or just maybe that we have learned only moments earlier that the wife Candy's character has talked about the entire movie is actually dead; whatever it is, that single moment leaves you with that emotional feeling where, though you are happy for the outcome, you want to stay in the seats as the credits roll so you can make sure no one sees any evidence of your appreciation.

I mention this because as we celebrated Thanksgiving at our home yesterday, it was all a very casual affair with the usual turkey and fixings. Ordinarily, we meet at my mother-in-law's home, but this year, to help ease the stress, we suggested having dinner here. My brother-in-law has been ill for months and in the hospital and in rehabilitative care facilities. His childhood diabetes didn't end with adulthood, and now in his mid-forties, and the failure of the kidney my wife donated to him over 15 years ago, every phone call my mother-in-law gets brings on the emotional, what if this is it.

We ate and chatted and watched football. Really, it could have been any Sunday lunch, just this was Thursday and we were having turkey. Later, a sister-in-law and her family stopped by having visited the brother-in-law at his rehabilitation center for his Thanksgiving lunch. As the first game of the day ended and the official cutting of the huge pecan and apple pies commenced, we got a call from my brother-in-laws wife. She asked me if we were still eating.

My wife had called her during the week and told her that we would be meeting at our house for Thanksgiving and that if she felt up to it, she should come and bring her parents. It has been some time since she has been to our house so she was asking for street names and crossroads etc. She asked if it was alright if she brought her mother and I told her of course.

My wife quickly cleaned off a few places at the table and we brought in a few more chairs and in the mean time, we cheered on the Cowboys.

When the car pulled into the driveway, my wife opened the door and suddenly made eye contact with me and motioned for me to come over. "She brought Cosme!" This was not the John Hughes moment.

We went out front and by now my son and my nephew had come out to help pull a wheelchair from the back of the car. As his wife instructed me on how to help him get from the seat of the car to the chair, my wife's sister popped her head out of the front door to see what was going on. This was not the moment either.

When we made our way into the front door and had my brother-in-law safely inside the warm house facing my mother-in-law, she smartly lowered herself onto the couch and covered her mouth with a napkin and cried tears of joy; it was as if the half-time recap of the football game had suddenly segued into that music you hear in movies when the guy suddenly realizes that the girl who is his best friend has secretly loved him all along, and he loves her too.

I can't tell you and couldn't possibly describe the visual of seeing a woman so stressed out with grief suddenly overcome with joy - absolute and total relief for at least another moment to be with her son at home. If you've ever seen a person win the pull of a wishbone and not even have to ask what it was they hoped for only to see it come true moments later, this was it. And yes, this was it.
My mother-in-law and her oldest son.

1 comment:

Sid said...

This was a wonderful surprise for your mother-in-law. Truly this was am unexpected event for which she will forever be grateful as she reminisces about Thanksgiving Day 2007. No tasty turkey and dressing, or delicious deep-dish apple pie, or winning football team could have exceeded the joy of this moment for Eva's mom.

I think this was more like an early Christmas gift for the entire family!

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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