Sunday, January 26, 2014

giving thanks

This past weekend, there was a terrible fire in my mother's condominium complex.  My mother's neighbor, whose condo abuts my mother's condo, completely burned out. So, too, did the other three condos in the same building. Because my mother and Jim, thankfully, are in Florida for the winter months and will not be returning to South Carolina until at least April, my sister, Marylou went to survey the damage, yesterday.  As a result of the catastrophic Friday night fire that took firefighters five hours to put out, my mother and Jim's home sustained severe damage that will likely require the entire condo to be gutted.  When I spoke to my mother yesterday and again, today, she told me, "It's just stuff. Thank God no one was hurt. Things can be replaced.  People can't." 


I'm so thankful no one was hurt. I'm so thankful Mom and Jim weren't there when it happened. And I'm so thankful that they won't be going back to South Carolina for several months - so hopefully, the damage will be repaired before they return.   Now, while I'm on the topic of being thankful, although Thanksgiving was two months ago, I've been wanting to jot down some thoughts about it before too much more time lapsed. This year, my sister, Eileen, her husband, Clark, and four of their five kids came to spend the holiday with us.  So, too, did my mother and Jim.  And even though there were fourteen people packed under one roof ... and a handful of those people were sick with strep throat ... this was our best Thanksgiving ever.


Here are some highlights of our week together... 

Cousin Tommy, wearing Henry's Kindergarten turkey hat, dressed up and playing with the boys who were both on Cloud 9 that their awesome big cousin was playing soldiers with them! 


Cousins Alana and Diana teaching Carolyn how to do a cup - clap percussion gig. 




And then joined by Elizabeth, who wanted to learn, too. 


Noni and Henry having a quiet morning conversation, over a glass of orange juice. 


Tommy, who aspires to go to Annapolis, sitting with Jim and our wonderful neighbor, Tom, who both served in the Navy.  From what I could tell, they were discussing things like wartime ships and whatnot. And Tommy, the politest 17-year old young man I've ever met, asked all the correct questions to keep the conversation going. Even when Jim excused himself to go take a nap. 


Diana challenging Tommy that she was strong enough to hold him ... 


And then proving she was correct. 



Noni teaching the girls how to crochet...


And then sharing with Eileen some make-up tips that she's recently learned. 



Eileen cuddling up with Mom and Jim.


And William cuddling up with a napping Jim.


Taking everyone to visit Arlington National Cemetery on a bitterly cold day.


Charlie huffing it up steep hills from the lowest point, to the highest point in the cemetery, pushing Jim in a wheelchair, to visit landmarks such as John F. Kennedy's grave and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.



Visiting the FDR Memorial in DC.


My mother was born during the Great Depression, so this was important for her to see, and important for us to see - through her eyes. 



We also took Jim to visit the World War II Memorial, but by then, it was dark, late and cold. So Jim stayed in the car, while my mother and I braved the elements and walked around the perimeter.


We can be so tied to our "things."  Those things, our homes and possessions, are such an important part of our life and sometimes, our identity. But from my perspective, what really makes life worth living, aren't the things - but rather - the experiences and memories of time with our loved ones.  Now that we've had 14 people under one roof, we know it can be done. So Mom and Jim, you are absolutely welcome to come stay with us for as long as necessary, should the need arise.


Just be prepared, you will never be alone.