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Giving thanks for one more year

POSTED: May 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Thanksgiving Day in 1995 was a bit different.

My brother and his family were elsewhere, my daughter was with her mother and it was just me and Mama.

"I can bake a small hen," Mama said.

But Thanksgiving for two didn't seem like it was worth all that effort. So, after a bit of persuading, I convinced Mama to go out for Thanksgiving. We went to the Holiday Inn in Athens.

Turns out, we really enjoyed it. I think more than anything else, we enjoyed not having a bunch of dirty dishes or leftovers.

A year later on Thanksgiving, Mama was breathing with the help of a ventilator and two weeks later, she was gone.

I don't remember anything about that Thanksgiving meal, and the holiday season that followed was not much to write home about. Frankly, there was nobody at home to write to.

There are some people who get great joy about fixing all the stuff we enjoy at Thanksgiving. There are others who seem to get all worked up about it. I spent Thanksgiving with both types and if I can't be with the first type, I'd rather eat at Waffle House.

In other words, Thanksgiving should not be a time of dread and panic, but a time of joy.

I'm a bit fearful about this Thanksgiving because, good or bad, it will be a memorable one. I'm going to my brother's house and unless we get an incredible miracle, this will be his last Thanksgiving. After 21 months and lots of chemotherapy, radiation and various drugs, a brain tumor is winning the battle. It's been a tug of war and at times it seemed like my brother was winning. But that tumor, which started out the size of a tennis ball, seems to have captured game, set and match in this contest for life.

What's crazy is that his body is actually fine. It's the kind of tumor that only resides in the brain. But now, the messages of stand up and walk don't reach their intended destination and his ability to remember is fading.

It is not the same person who just a year ago enjoyed Thanksgiving at a beachfront home in South Carolina, and after eating enjoyed a walk beside the ocean.

But this time, I will watch and fight back tears as my only sibling, just 51, goes through the twilight of his life.

I'm thankful alright. I'm thankful that God has given us one more Thanksgiving. It might not be the one I was asking for, but I'll take it with gratitude.

The job of voicing the prayer to God for our blessings may fall to me. Like a lot of people, we tend to thank the Lord for the blessings of the past year and ask him to bless us in the year to come.

This year, more than any other, I'm thankful for the here and now. For the moment, we drink in and try to keep a little left over to fill our cup full of memories.

It might not be the memory we wanted, but I'm grateful nonetheless.

And oh yes, I'm not forgetting that the one we thank is in the miracle business.

So, if you don't mind asking, put in a good word with your thanks for turkey and dressing to ask the Lord to send one of those miracles our way.

I'll be forever thankful if you do.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays in the print edition only and Sundays.



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