By the time you are a fully-grown adult, with your own home and your own grown-up concerns, chances are you will have lost somebody. If you are “lucky” it is a “normal” loss in the passage of time – a grandmother has passed on or a dear friend has moved very far away. Alternatively, you may have lost a parent at a young age, or a near-age sibling unexpectedly. In any case, today is a holiday, and as you go about your grown-up preparations for your own take on whatever traditions you hold dear, you probably feel a sense of loss.
If you are like me, you probably try to push this sense out of your mind, concentrating instead on the turkey before you or the gaggle of friends who will be arriving any minute. But try as you might, the melancholy will seep in. For me it was as I whisked the Locatelli Romano cheese into the broth to create the base for my grandmother’s meatball soup. She was 84 when she died, two years ago, and had been “gone” a long time due to Alzheimer’s Disease. Her passing was sad, but natural, and I haven’t dwelled on it. Today, though, while making her soup, which she made every Thanksgiving in a pot that was as big as I was as a tot, I felt the urge to tell her that I was making it, or, alternatively, to call my grandfather (still living and healthy as ever, Praise Ceiling Cat) and tell him that his wife of 55 years was not forgotten.
I didn’t make that call, though. No, I did what most of us do when struck by such feelings and ideas – I kept doing what I was doing. The soup is simmering in the pot right now, and I’m writing this. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe I don’t want to get caught up in an hourlong conversation with my grandfather on a busy day. Maybe I don’t want to go down the emotional rabbit hole. Or maybe, and this is probably the real answer – it isn’t easy.
If my grandfather used e-mail, I’d probably shoot him a copy of this and his heart would be warmed. He doesn’t, though. Neither do plenty of your older relatives, I bet. And even though your friends and family that are geographically distant would enjoy a quick call, you aren’t inclined to dial and neither are they. That’s the real sadness right there.
We need to make those calls. You want to talk about giving thanks today? Give thanks to those who are still with us, even if they are old or distant. Not “for” them, but to them. I can’t tell my grandmother I’m making her soup in my own home just as she did in hers, but I can tell my grandfather. I can’t spend time with my uncle or my friends in Vegas today, but I can let them know I’d like to. Because the truth is that someday not a single one of those people will be alive to be called. And what would we rather remember, should we be the ones still here – the story Grandpop told about the time Grandmom put sugar instead of salt in the soup, or the extra 20 minutes worrying about the turkey (or writing the Chrono Trigger review I promised)?
Yeah, I need to make a call. Besides, my grandfather will probably be at my uncle’s house already, so I’ll just leave a voicemail message.
Happy Thanksgiving, Weiner fans.