Our annual family gathering was smaller this year than in the past.
Some family from New Jersey didn’t come south this year, a brother-in-law went to his children and one son-in-law and a grandchild were in Detroit for a family affair and to watch the Detroit Lions get whipped by Green Bay. (Who would voluntarily leave Florida and go to Detroit in cold weather?)
On the other hand, we had our neighbors join us with their four-year old, and the cousins ranging in age from four to 23 were demonstrating their mutual friendship in addition to their being related and the house was filled with a consonance of happy noise. Close friends joined us for dessert and coffee. Chipper, the beautiful Golden Lab, learned that going down a spiral staircase was not easy; his nose was sniffing and investigating each nook in the house.
Joan and I are each growing older, chronologically at the same pace. But I am feeling the limitations to a far greater extent. She hasn’t changed that much since I met her and fell in love over 55 years ago. She has the strength (mental and physical) and athleticism that has been present throughout the years; she is still able to induce a “WOW” when she walks into a room. I, on the other hand, have arthritis, have lost much muscle tone, cannot open a bottle top and have difficulty in lifting stuff. In short, I feel age creeping up and am decidedly not happy about it.
One of the things about which I feel poorly is that I wasn’t any help to Joan as she schlepped groceries from the supermarket, spend two days stirring and folding and baking and roasting her usual masterpiece of a Thanksgiving dinner while I snuck garlic-soaked olives and cheese.
Toward the end of the afternoon-evening, I was thinking, in the works of President Kennedy, that it was time for the torch to be passed to the new generation, that from now on, we would gather at one of their homes and, while we would bring a pie or two, the bulk of the meal would be awaiting us: turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potato pie, green beans and fried onions, maybe corn pudding.
Then one grandchild announced that she loved her Grandma’s Thanksgiving, another said that, as he grew older, he appreciated the food more and more and that Grandma was the greatest, and then a third grandchild announced that we were the favorite grandparents and that we were loved. Finally the children and grandchildren took upon themselves the task of much cleaning up, taking the trash to the curb.
When everyone gathered at the front door to leave, we each received tight hugs and murmured, “Thank you” and “I love you so much” from children and grandchildren. And each hug and kiss and expression of love brought strength to Joan and to me.
Maybe one more year until the torch passes.