Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving~What I've Learned Over the Years

This year, we'll celebrate Thanksgiving at home. Last year, Dear Son was in the hospital recovering from the H1N1 and a viral pneumonia. It was a rough month with Dear Son on a ventilator and then the long, long recovery. Last year, I watched the Food Network on television at the hospital. Dear Son was released that night however for the next few days, things were rough. Although his oxygen saturations were adequate at the hospital, they dropped significantly when he got home. For three or four days, he struggled to breathe and I did breathing treatments manually every two hours or so. It was a hard time for both of us. The days and weeks after that, he'd cry non-stop in pain but we didn't know why. He was hospitalized again in December and then in January until they located the source of his pain-a pnematosis (free air in the lining of the bowel wall); while it shouldn't have caused pain, it did. It took months before he was able to sit up and it wasn't until May of 2010 where he could sit up long enough to take a plane ride to Disney for his Make a Wish trip.

We've spent a few Thanksgivings in the hospital over the years. And for a long time prior, I admit to taking many of them for granted. After all, there was plenty of food, all of the family there and of course, all of the fun. Having spent last year in the hospital with Dear Son, and many others, I have a new found appreciation for Thanksgiving. I think my worst Thanksgiving, was a few years back, when Dear Son was hospitalized, all of the restaurants were closed, and I ate a ham sandwich out of the vending machine, since the cafeteria was closed at well. At that time, I remembered all of the wonderful holidays with delicious food and all of the fun.

Sometimes, it's easy, when things are going well for people, to overlook all of the blessings they have, myself included. My perspective is a bit different now. After nineteen years of seeing the world from Dear Son's eyes, I look at Thanksgiving with more grace. I thought it might be nice to count the ways, we are blessed.

You know you are blessed when:
  • You can spend Thanksgiving at home. There are many adults and children who will spend Thanksgiving in a hospital. Some of them won't survive. We are blessed to spend it at home this year.
  • There is plenty of good food to eat. Food banks are overflowing with people in need of a good meal. I like to donate to a mission in our community for the holidays.

  • You can eat and swallow food. Dear Son has been on gtube feeds since 2006. That doesn't mean he doesn't miss it. He can still smell the food and loves to cook. Sometimes I give him a little taste, about the size of a dime, if that. He can't swallow anymore and can't manage food by his mouth.
  • You can have a conversation with your kids. I've never been able to have a conversation with Dear Son since he can't speak. I'd love to know what he was thinking and feeling.
  • You have all of your family members at the table. I lost my sister to colon cancer in 2009. I never dreamed I would lose her so young.

And finally, don't forget to make room at the table for the disabled. I know when we would sit down at the table with extended family, space was tight and it was always easier to feed Dear Son off to the side in his wheelchair or feed him at the table before everyone was seated; this was when he could eat by his mouth and not via a feeding tube. Now I know that was a mistake. When I sat in the living room with him, I could hear everyone laughing and having a good time at the table and it wasn't the same. It was then that I realized the importance of socialization at the table. Now, I make sure to sit Dear Son in the wheelchair at the table and enjoy it with us.

So today, I'll set a pretty table, pull Dear Son's wheelchair up to the table, and be thankful for all of the food we have and for the family who will celebrate Thanksgiving with us today. I will also be thankful for all of you, who always support us and pray for us. Your prayers for my Dear Son mean a lot.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: Photo of Dear Son was taken two days ago while he was napping. He is healthy and doing well this year. Tablescape is my Sugar Maple tablescape. You can see more photos here. That is also today's tablescape for Thanksgiving.


SaoirseD said...

I hope you had a great thanksgiving. The place looked lovely the way you had it laid out.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you so much for the reminders of what to be thankful for, and I have to admit that as I was reading it out loud, I had to stop and hold back the tears. It was my fiance who finished for me.

Being thankful for the ability to speak was what touched me so very much, because my son does not speak, and like you, I often wonder what he is thinking. He is only 5 and so this road we travel has not been a long one, but it has had its share of ups and downs.

Thank you for your words and have a blessed Holiday season.

Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) said...

Happy Post Thanksgiving! Beautiful tablescape, dear Mom, but even more beautiful were your words. You can rest assured that I DO appreciate everything I have. It was just my son and I at Thanksgiving yesterday, but we had a wonderful time together. Just being with your most important loved one is the greatest blessing. As I know you agree since you were happy to NOT be in the hospital this year, but to be happy, with peace of mind, at home. I don't celebrate Thanksgiving with one batch of my cousins anymore since my mother passed away. Frankly, I know that they don't even miss my son and I. So I know exactly what to appreciate, and I know exactly who appreciates my son and me. I have other cousins who do and we see them at Christmas, so I am blessed. I thank you for reminding me of my blessings. And I must say: I LOVE that picture of your son in the recliner! He looks so comfortable and peaceful. That photo is a keeper! Take care.
Best regards,

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tablescape! And, always, it is delightful to see Dear Son.

I'm so glad that you were together, and at home this year! :)

Dream Mom said...

Thanks everyone!

Kristin Drohan said...

First, I love the new look. Second, love the the table.
Third, when are writing your book?

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