I wasn't able to enjoy Thanksgiving for quite a few years after that. It just wasn't the same without Mom. She was one of those mothers who did it all with grace and (what seemed to me like) ease. You just walked in and sat down to an amazing spread of food, which was always on the table at precisely the time she said it would be (china, stemware, crystal serving dishes and all).
I'm still amazed by that. I can do all the cooking. But it's served far more casually, and pulling it all together at the end is still a challenge for me even after doing it many times. I usually have a window of time rather than a specific time dinner will be served. And I don't set a beautiful table. I serve some of the meal straight from the stove, buffet style (fewer dishes to wash). Formality has never been something I've valued. ;) But I enjoyed all the holidays my mom put so much effort into and I've carried on a few of her traditions. Romance Cookies are still a Christmastime favorite and always will be.
At 54, I have a much deeper appreciation for all my mother's strengths; some I was not even aware of when I began my motherless years at the age of 28. I also have a deeper understanding of some of the traits I once viewed as her weaknesses. One of the hardest things about losing her so young is that she only got to meet her first three grandsons and none of her granddaughters. Oh, how proud she would be of all of them! And how she would have spoiled all of them the way she did Danny, Jared and Justin. She would also now have six great grandchildren to spoil. She was an amazing grandmother. My role model.
Even though I will always miss her and think of her so much during the holidays most of all, the holidays are no longer hard for me. It's not that time has healed my heart of losing her. I will always wish she was here. But you learn how to go on and focus on all you do have, trusting God not only for the blessings He gives but those He takes away. At this Thanksgiving, I am thankful I had a mom who loved me for all the years I had her. I'm thankful for everything I learned from her. And of the many traits I inherited from her, the one I'm most thankful for is a grateful outlook on life. I will never forget her facing such a premature death with a heart full of gratitude for the blessed life she had had up to that point. In that way, I have always wanted to be just like her.
Mom, I miss you. I love you. And you will always be a big part of who I am. I know now that you loved me more than I ever comprehended. Our different personalities sometimes got in the way of the closeness we both really wanted. And we did not have the gift of time to grow into a mature adult relationship as mother and daughter. But I'm appreciating you now. And one day I will get to tell you face to face. Until then, I will carry you with me in my heart and in my memories.