Life stays busy, so it snuck up on me, Mom. There’ve been some thoughts trying to press in over recent days about how this week will be different. Some efforts to hold a holiday together for my family when the past few years have rearranged everything. This will be the first year we don’t gather in your home. It wasn’t until I woke up this morning and lay there breathing out half-conscious thoughts to God that I realized: you’ve been the heart of my holidays.
Thanksgiving especially. Because I think there was only one Thanksgiving I didn’t get to spend with you – 2020. When you were at Eastern Star and no visitors were allowed, but we did get to have a family Zoom call together. Last year, Regan and I came for a lovely early Thanksgiving luncheon with you at Eastern Star and, on Thanksgiving Day, Gillian and I got to see you and hold your hand at the nursing home. Not what we wanted – but we were happy with the crumbs when a feast wasn’t possible.
It’s been a wonderful lifetime of Thanksgivings with you. Growing up, college years, early marriage – I always looked forward to being at home on Thanksgiving Day. And I think the best days were after my girls came along and we all piled into the car (with toys, baby swings, snacks) to drive from wherever (Indiana, North Carolina, Michigan) to your house. A few years, we drove through bad snowstorms or ice storms, and the girls laugh at how Bill would always say, “When did your parents move to Siberia?”
After we settled in at your house on Wednesday night, you would get up at 5 am the next morning for your devotions and prayer while we slept later. Except often, my little Early Bird Regan would sleepily pad in to join you – and you treasured it. (I can’t remember a morning – Thanksgiving or otherwise – that you didn’t wake up happy. Even after the early morning Rheumatoid Arthritis pain started.) Coffee was made and we usually started with brunch. Then we fixed food together while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then football was on TV. Our Thanksgiving dinner was ready in the late afternoon and we would gather around the cloth tablecloth where your Desert Rose dishes and china teacups fought for room. Dad sat at the head of the dining table, you sat at the foot, and the rest of us filled in the gaps. You would always have us start by naming something we were thankful for, and then we would sing the Doxology together before we ate. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Sometimes Mom, you had tears in your eyes. Gratitude tears. And later in the evening, we would have a family devotion and the girls might sing for you and you would bring out some small gift you’d been saving for each of us. Dad would express his own deep gratitude to God and then pray for others. This will always be the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving in my mind – a mix of family, love, and thanks.
Maybe it was the in-between moments with you that I miss the most. The chatting with my best friend while we fixed food and set the table. The Black Friday shopping together – even before that day had a name. The comparing of Christmas lists. Sitting together on your couch when the others were occupied and sharing all the things on our minds. Playing dominos or other games with the girls in the evenings. Hugging you goodnight as you went to bed before us late-night owls.
And Thanksgiving was this heartbeat … stable, strong, loving … that always came around each year. I’m missing that. Missing you, Mom. I guess maybe this blog post is another marker I needed to leave — another unmovable stone marking God’s goodness to me before I have to move on.
But there’s something else you did for me. Something bigger and yet hard to see in the individual moments. As life changed, no matter how hard, you still woke up early and you met your Father with your Bible and journal. You still greeted all of us with a happy “Good morning” or “How about a cup of coffee?” Your words sang around the house. You gave thanks and you gave much more. You ladled out love to everyone in your wide circle. You prayed. And day-by-day, you trusted God, believing in His goodness and love. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! My beautiful mama – more than all the rest, this is the legacy you left me.
I had forgotten until this morning – one time when the girls sang a duet for you in the kitchen – “You Are My Hiding Place.” It had been a tough year for you, although I didn’t realize that at the time. It was beautiful and when I looked over, tears were quietly coming down your face. I still know the words by heart:
You are my hiding place.
You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance.
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
I will trust in You.
Let the weak say, “I am strong,” in the strength of the Lord.
This is you, Mom. You were tender, yet strong in the strength of the Lord. You always found ways to praise God from whom all blessings flow — a Doxology life. And as we eat our Thanksgiving meal at Bob Evans tomorrow (Dad’s choice this year), I’ll have a grateful heart and I’ll thank God for His faithfulness in all things.
And then I’ll know that you’re still right there with us.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. -- Psalm 32:7
4 replies to “Doxology”
I have been Praying for you and your family.. Please tell your dad that I think about him often and I hope that he is ok…
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This is beautiful, Terri! Happy Thanksgiving!
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You and your family are in my daily prayers..Having walked these steps I know it’s not easy but what a joy to know the beautiful memories that your Mom gave you.
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Thank you, Chris ❤️