Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I Am Grateful For (2010)

It is the season for giving thanks. But I am not just thankful, I am grateful.

At this moment I am sitting alone in a motel room in my hometown. The weather outside is exceedingly crappy and I have no desire to slip, slide around town. I am here so that I can spend Thanksgiving with my mother. For the past several years she has resided here. My mother was fortunate to be able to live independently until she was 90 years old. Next month she will be 94. I will be here for that too and for Christmas. I come because at each holiday and special day, I wonder if it will be the last one that I spend with her. I am grateful to my two coworkers, Heather and Courtni who picked up my overnight shifts so I could come.

As I sat with my mother this afternoon, I could not help but think once again. This could be the last Thanksgiving. She seemed so tired and weak. She often gets that familiar far-way look in her eye as if she is already looking beyond this world into the next. Of her generation in the family, there are only two left, my mother and my aunt. I am grateful that I still have her in my life.

It probably would seem inconvenient for my siblings and I to live two hours away to keep her at this nursing home. It was suggested by my aunt that we move her closer to us in the cities. But that would not have been good for my mother. Here in her hometown she is still surrounded by friends and neighbors. Many of them become her personal support system when my dad died in 2005. She had neighbors who brought her mail in and got her groceries. There were others who helped by mowing her lawn and shoveling her snow. But this is small town. It is what they do and I am grateful to them.

When she got sick and could no longer live on her own, that support moved to the nursing home. Yes, it would have been more convenient to have her living close. But, I don’t think I would have the same confidence in the staff of any other nursing home. You see, the staff here consists of the sons, daughters and grandchildren of her longtime friends. In addition many are also former classmates of mine. I remember when my Dad was dying in this very nursing home. I, at one point, was overcome with emotions on that final day. I had to leave the room and stepped out into the hall. At that very moment, my best friend from high school was walking by. She didn’t say a word, but wrapped her arms around me and let me cry on her shoulder. I hadn’t seen her in years, but she was there when I needed her. I will always be grateful to the staff here for the care they gave my Dad in his final days and the care they are giving my Mom now.

In closing, I am especially grateful to all of my online friends from Twitter, Newsvine and Facebook. I do not think I could have survived all that I have been through in these past 5 years without the support of my friends online. We are not a community in the same way that my Mom has community here in her hometown. But we are a community in the way we come together and support each other. I have been touched in a profound way by the support I have received from people I am unlikely to ever meet. I am grateful and give thanks to you all.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Tammy said...

Excellent post about seeking gratitude in all things.

On this day I am thankful for many things, including the internets that brought me together with wonderful people like you.

Happy day.

November 25, 2010 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I love this post Mary. It says a lot about what a wonderful person you are, to reflect back on the everyday kindness (the most important type) people bring into our lives, that you provide to your Mom and your friends. Thank you for starting my Thanksgiving day out on such a terrific note. Can't imagine that we've only known each other for a year or so. Dear friend at least I KNOW that you and I will meet in person. xxoo

November 25, 2010 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Tammy and Caroline, Thank you! I am blessed to count you both as friends. :)

November 25, 2010 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Madabip said...

Hi, Mary!

When I checked google reader tonight and saw a posting from your site I was so happy.

Then to come here and read this beautiful piece and I'm struck one again by your amazing thoughtfulnes as you acknowledge the whys and wherefores of those for whom you are grateful.

I'm also struck by the thoughtfulness with which you and your sister approached your mom's care. She's surrounded by people who love and care for her -- probably providing for her as though she belonged to them, which she does, when you think about it.

I'm also glad you're in a hotel room and snug as a bug and not driving back and forth on icy/snowy roads.

Finally, I like that you include those things for which you are grateful, rather than just being grateful.

Really great post, Mary.

Grateful for you,

Madabip/K

November 26, 2010 at 2:02 AM  
Blogger Madabip said...

Amendment!

Not:
Finally, I like that you include those things for which you are grateful, rather than just being grateful.

But:
Finally, I like that you include those things for which you are grateful, rather than just being thankful.

November 26, 2010 at 2:04 AM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Madabip, I think I chose grateful rather than thankful because it is a step beyond emotionally. I am always affected by my visits to my hometown. It is a step back in time to a totally different life. The people are the same as they were when I grew up there, just older.

But, it is very hard to see my mother now. She was a very formidible woman, very strong in her opinions and in life. To see her now is very different. I care for who she is, but I miss who she was. She was a large part of my personal support system and really, cannot be replaced. There is a void there now. In a way I grieve for that.

I don't think I could provide the necessary care for her without my heart breaking a little. I know I couldn't.

Thank you Karen!

November 26, 2010 at 10:38 AM  
Anonymous j said...

This is so beautiful, Mary. It gave me chills. I'm so glad your mom is able to live somewhere that you are absolutely comfortable with. How much harder this time would be if that were not the case. I think you made the right decision, even though I know the distance is hard.

And as part of your online community, I'm grateful for you too. xo

November 26, 2010 at 11:38 PM  
Blogger azsky13 said...

Thank you J! In a way I envy my Mom. I left my hometown because there was nothing for me there, or so I thought. I miss the connections there, the people. But I do love the connections I have made online.

November 27, 2010 at 4:11 AM  

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