It’s Thanksgiving Day. After the long march, heavy with dread, the holidays have arrived. But it’s okay. I have it figured out. I’m going to work, and then I’m going to drive. Work will keep me busy, body and mind. The long drive will feed my soul. And when we get to where we’re going – no more holiday. It’s done. You will all be stuffed with your turkey, and my kids and I will arrive at our destination hopped up on convenience store junk food.
Ploop. Just like that, holiday is done and we are on the other side of it. Thanksgiving, ta-da, fini.
Exactly a year ago… Life was horrible. Mark got an “all-clear” from a biopsy surgery and we began to plan his recovery, the bariatic oxygen therapy (which might have ultimately saved his life) to heal radiation damage. And two hours later, as I’m leaving the hospital parking garage, my cell phone rings, there was another biopsy result: “Mrs. Daves, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this….”
Now, where was I? Right. Thanksgiving.
Mark loved to cook. He loved turkey. There were few foods that he loved more than “a big ol’ honkin’ turkey leg.” He never really made that one spectacular turkey that he wanted to make. But he loved to cook for people, and he was a good cook. Those of you who never got to sample the bread he made, or his oven-baked chicken-fried steak, or his “beer-butt chicken,” you missed out. The man had a gift. There were few times in his life that Mark was happier than when something came out right, and people loved it enough to give him raves.
At some point during the holidays, I’m going to attempt to make Mark’s chicken gumbo. The recipe is in his handwriting, and it’s long and complicated. Which is troublesome because even in the best of times, I am a forgetful cook. But, I’m willing to try. It brings Mark to the table with us, in a small way. We’ll eat gumbo – maybe I’ll even attempt his “faux French bread” – and we’ll toast the season, and the man, and the warmth and goodness of friends at the table.
But not now. Not today. Today is strictly a mixed bag.
(The poem below was written exactly a year ago.)