Monday, December 12, 2011

Holidays

Holidays are always hard when you have lost a loved one.  I remember the first Thanksgiving and Christmas we had without my dad.  He was in the nursing home and we celebrated at my house with my sister and her family. I think we had it there that year because of how weird it would have been to have it at my parent's house without my dad.  We went and visited him in the nursing home after Thanksgiving, which the nursing home had set aside a day where family could come eat with their loved one.  My dad was at the point that he didn't eat solid foods, if any at all, so we ate in his room with him while he lied in his bed.  Wasn't really a good memorable Thanksgiving to have with him, but it was the last so I'm happy we got to spend it with him not matter what it was like.
We did have our traditional Christmas Eve at at my parents house like we do every year, but this was the first one without him there.  It was weird, awkward, uncomfortable, and I know we all felt guilty to still have this family celebration without my dad present.  This was our son's first holiday season so that took my mind off of the hurtful things.  My heart always had that nagging feeling of hurt that my dad was supposed to be here with us enjoying the grand kids and the adult conversations, but my first child took away from that and made joy for me.  I know that sounds selfish, but this is what I did in these days.
Christmas that year was the same, except I felt even worse knowing what he was doing while we were enjoying opening presents and eating.  This is when I would block it out and not show any emotion what so ever.  How could we carry out this annual tradition when the foundation of our traditions was lying hours away in a bed.  I hate it now, and here is where my guilt comes flooding back in because I didn't do more when I could have, but I've learned from those days and know I will never do anything like this again.
The next year was when he was truly gone.  We all missed him and it hurt to miss him.  It really never gets better over the years, but it does in some strange way.  I guess we just learn to accept it, because there isn't anything anyone can do.
I have to be thankful that I got the years I did with my dad at Christmas time, and anytime.  I have this picture of him in a Christmas tree frame that goes up along with all my other decorations every year, and it will forever.  He is laughing in the photo,and it brings a smile to my face with tears in my eyes, because I know he would want us to remember him like that.  He would want us to carry on our traditions and remember all the Christmas' when he was there with us.
So instead of dwelling on the sadness and grief I have to keep making memories with the family I have here.  You never know when your last day will come, so you have to make the most of your life while you can.

Thanksgiving this year was spent at my sister's house and for the first time both of our husbands were there.  In the past years both of their work schedules would interfere with the day, but this year it all worked out.  It was so much fun, and was such a great memory for us all.  Between my sister and I we have 10 kids. 9 being girls and 1 boy. Yes, he is out numbered, but he doesn't mind one bit.  He gets all the boy attention.  The kids always have a blast with each other on any day, but it's the holidays that I have the fondest memories of my cousins, aunt, uncles, and grandparents. So it made me feel good that they all will have that also.  We see each other regularly, but holidays are family oriented and it is important to spend every one of them with each other.
 If I don't get back to post I hope everyone has a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Merry Christmas!

5 comments:

  1. Sheryl,
    We all do the best we can when this most hideous of diseases strikes our loved ones. My husband is still at home with us (in the end stages and on hospice. BTW, my children were also young when he was diagnosed 7 & 9) and even with him sitting right there next to us, completely unaware of what's going on, I STILL feel guilty for laughing and trying to enjoy the holiday. I just wanted to share that with you. Near or far, it doesn't matter. We still miss them and wish we could do more! Try to enjoy your holiday.
    Karen

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  2. Sheryl,
    I'm just now getting around to reading your post, and it is so pertinent. It amazes me how we can be overtaken by guilt with this disease. In reality, we do the best we can with what we know at the time. I say that for myself as much as for you and Karen and all the others who deal with this nasty disease. I am at the point of placing my husband (maybe temporarily or permanently), and it has to be the hardest thing I've ever done. I remember one Christmas when Billy's mom was in a nursing home, and his sister brought her to his house for Christmas Eve. She had no idea what she was doing or who most of us were. I remember one of Billy's sisters feeding her so many sweets, she got physically ill. Somehow I don't think she enjoyed that Christmas Eve.

    Let go of the guilt if you can, and be thankful for the wonderful memories you are making with your kids and their cousins. Thank you for writing about your feelings. It gives me perspective on how my daughter feels about her dad.
    Happy New Year!
    Kathy

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