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Old 11-16-2016, 12:52 AM
 
3,973 posts, read 5,264,608 times
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This Thanksgiving it will be 2 years since our last Thanksgiving with my husband. Thanksgiving is a hard day for me.

On Thanksgiving in 2014, we were aware at this point that he would not live long because his tumors had become an unstoppable force, marching through his brain. We had been invited to Thanksgiving with friends, but my husband knew he could no longer eat normally, so we declined. Another friend, however, brought the complete dinner to us, so there was no cooking, but just a private Thanksgiving meal with the two of us and our son. He did seem to be having some trouble chewing, so I had been giving him things well chopped up and only those that were soft. But it was at that meal that I realized he was swallowing very little and mostly just storing food in his cheeks. I stopped, knelt down beside his chair and talked with him calmly about what was happening, and we both realized that he no longer had the ability to coordinate his tongue movements enough to move the food around in his mouth. I was worried that he would choke, and I could see in his eyes how awful it was for him to realize he could no longer eat. We got through it, but stopped our dinner at that point. After that, he could only drink liquids, until the day before he died, when it became apparent that he could no longer swallow.

We had always enjoyed Thanksgiving before this. We spent most of our lives a few thousand miles away from our families (we were in CA, they were in TX) so we celebrated with good friends, and it was always lots of fun. This year, after having lived in TX for 5 years, my son and I are back in CA and will be eating with those same friends. It will be a group of 15, a couple of families, but lots of people we love. I don't want to be weighted by the very sad memory above. I want to enjoy the day, as we always did together. I think I will still be able to have good conversations with folks, enjoy the cooking together and the food. It is not like me (or my son) to sit alone when there are good friends around. So I think it will be a generally good day. But I know that last Thanksgiving, while good, was punctuated with moments when everyone was silent, and there was a pall over the dinner. I was still in Texas, where my husband died, and my sister and her family were acutely aware of his absence.

This season is hard for me. My husband died on Dec. 6, and those 10 days between Thanksgiving and his death were a constant trickle of abilities lost, of the inevitable coming closer.

This year, I am thinking more of the happy times and of the future. I am going to try to hang on to that. Our friends are not people who try to ignore the loss by not mentioning it. Instead, I know people will tell stories about my husband, and what a great time they had with him on such occasions. Perhaps those memories will overshadow the sad ones. I hope so.

My best to all of you who are missing those you love during this Holiday Season.
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Old 11-16-2016, 06:55 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
41,192 posts, read 32,863,519 times
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Your post made tears come to my eyes. This Thanksgiving, I will pray not just for our family but for all the families like ours and yours who are grieving over the holidays.

My dad was a very vigorous, active man till a few days before his death. So last Thanksgiving, we all thought it was strange that he looked pale and felt bad. He just tried to shrug it off, and he was such a good sport - he did his usual granddaddy and great granddaddy joking and singing with the kids and grandkids - but as soon as dinner was over, he retired to the sofa, and fell fast asleep. I have pictures of him with one of my granddaughters, all curled up together on the big sofa, both sound asleep.

The next day, we found out what was wrong with him - he had a pulmonary embolism. He spent five days in ICU, and that's when they found out he has a rare blood disorder that causes deformities in his platelets, causing clots. The treatment causes easy bleeding. But once it was diagnosed and he was out of the hospital and on treatment for it, his energy and love of life returned. He remained active and busy and we had a good year with lots of fun birthdays and holidays. In fact, Christmas last year was extra special because we were all so grateful that he had pulled through his health scare so well.

On October 22, my mom, who has some dementia, called me in a panic - my dad had been out on the shooting range with some friends, and he looked pale and felt awful, so they called an ambulance. He had had a small stroke.

We thought that things would improve - the stroke was small and didn't seem to have caused much damage, and my dad was in good spirits, able to talk, stand, joke around, eat, etc.

But then the blood disorder kicked in and uncontrollable bleeding and more clots began in his brain.

He had the small stroke on Saturday. By Monday, his right side was paralyzed. By Tuesday, he was having trouble breathing, because there was a clot on his brain stem. Tuesday evening he was barely able to speak, with great difficulty - but the doctors still thought he had a decent chance to pull out of this - with months of rehab ahead.

His mind and memory and personality and language skills were all 100 percent intact, though, other than his difficulty talking due to paralysis. It was very clear that he could hear and understand everything that was happening around him.

Wednesday morning he had his fatal stroke in spite of all that anyone and everyone was trying to do (treatment for his blood disorder and treatment for stroke contraindicate each other). He lapsed into a coma. Thursday evening we removed the ventilator and amazingly, he was able to open his eyes and look at us, squeeze our hands...and cry. It was the most heartbreaking day of my life, but thankfully he was able to have his entire family around him (brothers had come in from distant states and so had my mother's sisters, which seemed to mean a lot to him). We were all told to tell him good bye and anything else we needed to say to him, because his doctors said he was fully capable of understanding everything we said, even though he couldn't talk.

He passed away on Saturday, October 29.

You can imagine how raw we all feel. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. He would always recite Robert Service's poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee" from memory. Thankfully, my daughter has a video of him doing just that, from a few months ago. I am not sure we can stand to watch it. He also loved to boil a big, cured ham (we're probably not going to do that - but who knows...maybe we will...)

We all adored my father, and as his only daughter, believe me, I was a daddy's girl. Meanwhile, my poor mother has lost her companion of 57 years - and her full time caregiver. She is moving into assisted living. Her dementia, while mild, seems to really be actually helping her cope at this time. But it's all so sad I can barely stand it.

But guess what - there will be eight of his great grandchildren here - all between the ages of 14 and 14 months. And while they loved him and I'm sure they miss him, they are so excited about all being together that they can hardly stand it! And that reminds us all that life is for the living.

So the house will be full to bursting - with eight kids, and 9 adults. My youngest son - the only unmarried one of the bunch - will be here with a girl I am nearly positive he will marry pretty soon (they're not engaged, but I can see the writing on the wall!). Life moves forward.

I am sure there will be some tears, especially since it is a year to the day that his health problems really kicked in, and our memories of him so pale and still last Thanksgiving - so out of character - are still fresh. But we just have to move past it and go on with life - and for the sake of the kids, and for our own good, we have to reach out and grasp life. We have to find the good and savor it.

I really feel like our loved ones who have gone before us would be dismayed if they thought we were sitting around sad. I know that's not what my dad would want.
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Old 11-16-2016, 07:54 AM
 
1,019 posts, read 536,111 times
Reputation: 2739
I truly sympathize with your loss OP. This will be my third holiday season without my mom who died in April of '14. She was young, only 51 years old.

When I went through the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without her I was surprised that it went well for me and my family. As another poster pointed out, I think the kids in the family helped. At that time our son was about 1.5, and he had several cousins who ranged in age from 1-8. All of those kids and their excitement and rambunctiousness seem to really help. I don't know if there are kids in your family, but I certainly hope so.

That first year I got through Thanksgiving and Christmas just fine. Then it hit me on New Years Eve which I didn't expect at all. My wife and I rang in the new year alone, our son was upstairs asleep. We played a few games that night, and I had been drinking a fair amount which as most of us know heightens our emotions. Once the clock struck 12 I was hit with everything that had happened that year; my mom's quick decline and death from an aggressive cancer and learning to be a parent all at the same time. I started sobbing uncontrollably. It was a terribly sad way to ring in the year, but I also remember feeling glad that we got through it and thinking about all of the things I had to look forward to.

I enter this holiday season with two kids now, a 3 year old and 6 month old. I love this time of year and already look forward to the excitement my son will be feeling. The one thing that does get me is my dad. He and my mom married very young but were happy. She is all he knew for his entire adult life. At 50 years old he found himself a widower after being married for over 30 years. I still see the sadness in his eyes at important events and it breaks my heart that I can't do anything for him.

I understand that your position is more like my dad's. Not sure if you have kids, but if you do I imagine they are grown. I miss my mom terribly but I have my kids to raise and I am excited for the future because of it. I do think that all of the grandchildren help my dad get through it. I hope that there are children in your life, they do seem to help put everything in perspective.

Sorry for the long rambling post, maybe I also needed to get some of my thoughts out there! I wish you all the best OP, I hope you manage to feel some joy over the holiday season.
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Old 11-16-2016, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Columbia SC
7,997 posts, read 6,764,064 times
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My wife did not like Thanksgiving. She always kidded we Yankees made a big thing of it while the Southerners did not. It was a bit of a running joke with us like OK it is here, what are we going to do? She always preferred to go out to a nice expensive restaurant. We ate more Thanksgiving Dinners out than at home and always enjoyed them.

She died the Sunday before Thanksgiving on 11-22. I remember her both on the Sunday before Thanksgiving regardless of the date and on the 22nd. I think, well you weaseled your way out of this Thanksgiving. She would appreciate the irony.
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Old 11-16-2016, 08:31 PM
 
Location: Wonderland
41,192 posts, read 32,863,519 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johngolf View Post
My wife did not like Thanksgiving. She always kidded we Yankees made a big thing of it while the Southerners did not. It was a bit of a running joke with us like OK it is here, what are we going to do? She always preferred to go out to a nice expensive restaurant. We ate more Thanksgiving Dinners out than at home and always enjoyed them.

She died the Sunday before Thanksgiving on 11-22. I remember her both on the Sunday before Thanksgiving regardless of the date and on the 22nd. I think, well you weaseled your way out of this Thanksgiving. She would appreciate the irony.
Cute post and I think it's touching - but I honestly don't get your wife's idea that southerners don't make a big deal out of Thanksgiving. Methinks you may have been bamboozled on that one. Thanksgiving is huge throughout the south.
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Old 11-16-2016, 09:30 PM
 
4,902 posts, read 2,179,806 times
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Holidays are linked to our fondest memories ...if they were memorable and bonding.
Its validation at its core that they are no longer with us. I sincerely hope a moment can be said in their honor.
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Old 11-17-2016, 06:26 PM
 
Location: SWFL
21,547 posts, read 18,206,567 times
Reputation: 18903
Hugs to all of you.

Mom's death was 24 years ago, Dad's was 12 years, hubby was 5 years this Jan. 19th. With each one of them I didn't think I could go on, especially my husband's. It took me longer than "normal", 4 years, but I am finally able to not feel like I want the Holiday Season to just go away. I have friends down here and will be with a big extended family. I will give thanks for such a good friend in my life and grateful for the life I have had. Until 1 month ago I prayed for death every night. Now I am grateful. I accept my life now.

Peaceful holidays for everyone.

Thank you, GG, for starting this thread.
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Old 11-17-2016, 10:55 PM
Status: "Even better than okay" (set 21 days ago)
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
51,487 posts, read 50,728,421 times
Reputation: 60500
Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynAragon View Post
Your post made tears come to my eyes. This Thanksgiving, I will pray not just for our family but for all the families like ours and yours who are grieving over the holidays.

My dad was a very vigorous, active man till a few days before his death. So last Thanksgiving, we all thought it was strange that he looked pale and felt bad. He just tried to shrug it off, and he was such a good sport - he did his usual granddaddy and great granddaddy joking and singing with the kids and grandkids - but as soon as dinner was over, he retired to the sofa, and fell fast asleep. I have pictures of him with one of my granddaughters, all curled up together on the big sofa, both sound asleep.

The next day, we found out what was wrong with him - he had a pulmonary embolism. He spent five days in ICU, and that's when they found out he has a rare blood disorder that causes deformities in his platelets, causing clots. The treatment causes easy bleeding. But once it was diagnosed and he was out of the hospital and on treatment for it, his energy and love of life returned. He remained active and busy and we had a good year with lots of fun birthdays and holidays. In fact, Christmas last year was extra special because we were all so grateful that he had pulled through his health scare so well.

On October 22, my mom, who has some dementia, called me in a panic - my dad had been out on the shooting range with some friends, and he looked pale and felt awful, so they called an ambulance. He had had a small stroke.

We thought that things would improve - the stroke was small and didn't seem to have caused much damage, and my dad was in good spirits, able to talk, stand, joke around, eat, etc.

But then the blood disorder kicked in and uncontrollable bleeding and more clots began in his brain.

He had the small stroke on Saturday. By Monday, his right side was paralyzed. By Tuesday, he was having trouble breathing, because there was a clot on his brain stem. Tuesday evening he was barely able to speak, with great difficulty - but the doctors still thought he had a decent chance to pull out of this - with months of rehab ahead.

His mind and memory and personality and language skills were all 100 percent intact, though, other than his difficulty talking due to paralysis. It was very clear that he could hear and understand everything that was happening around him.

Wednesday morning he had his fatal stroke in spite of all that anyone and everyone was trying to do (treatment for his blood disorder and treatment for stroke contraindicate each other). He lapsed into a coma. Thursday evening we removed the ventilator and amazingly, he was able to open his eyes and look at us, squeeze our hands...and cry. It was the most heartbreaking day of my life, but thankfully he was able to have his entire family around him (brothers had come in from distant states and so had my mother's sisters, which seemed to mean a lot to him). We were all told to tell him good bye and anything else we needed to say to him, because his doctors said he was fully capable of understanding everything we said, even though he couldn't talk.

He passed away on Saturday, October 29.

You can imagine how raw we all feel. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday. He would always recite Robert Service's poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee" from memory. Thankfully, my daughter has a video of him doing just that, from a few months ago. I am not sure we can stand to watch it. He also loved to boil a big, cured ham (we're probably not going to do that - but who knows...maybe we will...)

We all adored my father, and as his only daughter, believe me, I was a daddy's girl. Meanwhile, my poor mother has lost her companion of 57 years - and her full time caregiver. She is moving into assisted living. Her dementia, while mild, seems to really be actually helping her cope at this time. But it's all so sad I can barely stand it.

But guess what - there will be eight of his great grandchildren here - all between the ages of 14 and 14 months. And while they loved him and I'm sure they miss him, they are so excited about all being together that they can hardly stand it! And that reminds us all that life is for the living.

So the house will be full to bursting - with eight kids, and 9 adults. My youngest son - the only unmarried one of the bunch - will be here with a girl I am nearly positive he will marry pretty soon (they're not engaged, but I can see the writing on the wall!). Life moves forward.

I am sure there will be some tears, especially since it is a year to the day that his health problems really kicked in, and our memories of him so pale and still last Thanksgiving - so out of character - are still fresh. But we just have to move past it and go on with life - and for the sake of the kids, and for our own good, we have to reach out and grasp life. We have to find the good and savor it.

I really feel like our loved ones who have gone before us would be dismayed if they thought we were sitting around sad. I know that's not what my dad would want.
I am so sorry, KA.

My Dad died October 30, 1999, and I remember that first Thanksgiving. I still miss him very much, but time softens the pain.

It will be a difficult holiday season for you and your family. Prayers for you.
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Old 11-18-2016, 12:21 PM
 
3,713 posts, read 3,038,648 times
Reputation: 10079
My wife was exhibiting health problems that I assumed was due to ongoing heart issues, we just moved into a new small town and I was a month into my retirement. I took her to the city hospital two hours away where she was diagnosed with terminal small cell lung cancer, the date was December twenty third, two days later we were back home, Christmas day, from there, her health really went downhill, she died on January 20th 2008.

I'm re-married and have had a five year span of happiness, but, Christmas will always have that memory attached to it. I don't say anything about that now to my new family, but it's there and I have to deal with it. I can only say that I hope you have good friends and family to see you through the difficult times, I was living in a new place, family was dealing with my brother's cancer, and old friends were moving on in their own retirement. Here's hoping you can find the love of others as a comfort, time does heal and we move forward despite our grief..
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Old 11-18-2016, 01:02 PM
 
5,612 posts, read 4,176,293 times
Reputation: 12356
So sorry OP and right there with you. This is our first Thanksgiving without my BIL who died last December. And it's the first Thanksgiving for his first grandchild born a couple weeks ago. So very, very bittersweet.
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