What a fantastic Thanksgiving.
When I first met my wife, her parents’ house was the hub of activity for an extremely large extended family. Lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, etc. A typical holiday get-together would frequently include around fifty or sixty people throughout the whole day. Thanksgiving would start around 1, and end around Friday.
In addition to the house being the location of choice, my father in law was quite literally the patriarch of the whole bunch. He was a very super-human figure to many, many people. He coached football when his kids were younger, so many of their friends looked to him as a father-figure the way players would for coaches they loved.
He was one of thirteen kids, and his mother was also a family icon as well. Having thirteen kids, you can imagine she had to be pretty rigid in her rules, and there are countless stories of her setting folks straight over the years. I’m almost disappointed that I am one of the few who knew here and was never slapped.
My father in law had a disease called Sarcoidosis. This disease affected his lungs. In the late 90s, he was the recipient of a single lung transplant, and told it should give him around five years. In his typical super-human style, he lived another 11 years. He was one of the few folks who ever got a re-transplant. This time, he got two lungs, for a total of five lungs over the course of his life. Unfortunately, he had more problems with rejection of these lungs. He passed away January 2010. He would have been sixty-one that April.
In the last couple years of his life, he withered quickly. Going from this larger-than-life pillar of confidence and inspiration to a man who struggled simply to go from his bed to a kitchen chair. For the kids who always saw him as immortal, it was crushing to see. Most couldn’t bear to see him that way, and avoided coming over, which they deeply regretted.
A couple of months after he passed, his mother died of natural causes as well. A sullen depression settled over the extended family, and holidays were a little too painful without these two living legends.
We planned a small intimate Thanksgiving dinner this year, as the last couple were just that. We invited my wife’s two brothers and their families. One of them invited many of the other folks who always came before for dessert. The turn out wasn’t as huge as it once was, but it was large, and absolutely fantastic. It was great to return to the large get together we used to enjoy.
I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!