The last few days of Autumn colors, with temperatures falling down to 30s at night in the Big Apple are colder. The Black Friday sale ads glimmer as I walk down the Times Square, I often get pulled in to something or the other. It is so easy to plant a craving in the mind or color it with a new temptation with just an emotional fib. The entire advertisement pitch is nothing but loads of mind games put together creating a sensory trap which is difficult to get out from.
This year I was a little hesitant in accepting the Thanksgiving dinner invite from Mom. I was not prepared to face my Dad, he has been too frail lately and has lost almost 70% of his vision.
He has been my childhood hero. He was sharp and energetic, always ready to help around the house or play baseball with us. No one could beat him. Mom would chuckle when I frowned at the dinner table after losing against him. When I would get more annoyed, Dad would enthuse me and say, “You will do better tomorrow, Bob!” He would feed me with his hands and those were my best meals.
Thanksgiving would be a time in my family with all my cousins joining us and enjoying the delicious turkey made by mom and he would feed and serve all with so much love and enthusiasm. The memories tear me up.
Aaliyah was always received with great love. He spoiled her with too much affection. He loved the pies she would bake for him.
The thoughts and memories kept playing in my mind as I walked the streets of New York trying to prepare myself to meet my old man all vulnerable and weak.
I sat at the eight-seater dining table set plainly for Thanksgiving. All the chairs were empty. My siblings and cousins could not make it. Aaliyah helped mom place the dishes at the table, we have turned vegan so there was no more turkey but a very delicious homemade tofurky roast with wild rice stuffing made with tofu and wheat and stuffed with spicy rice stuffing.
Dad walked slowly with the help of his stick and sat down on a chair with some effort and assistance of my mom. He strained his eyes to look at me and Aaliyah and after some seconds which seemed too long a time to me, a huge smile lit up his wrinkled face.
I started to serve him with great delight. But by the time he managed to bring the spoon up to his mouth, it would be empty and the food would be spilled all over. My mother sighed heavily and a deep remorse came on his face and he frowned. I said making all the efforts to hide the sadness in my voice, “You will do better tomorrow, Dad!” He laughed recalling his own words of reassurance to me when I lost the games with him.
I fed him that day the way he used to. Roles were reversed. I felt so much love and gratitude in being with him and supporting him. The disappointment that I had felt earlier faded away. It was indeed the best meals I have ever had with dad.
Thanksgiving is not just a family feast, it is a time to be filled with thankfulness, to show up and to give in actions to the ones who spent their lives in making you who you are today. It is a day to realize you are needed as much as you need, and it is a day to promise your presence to your folks.
See you in the comments.