Thanksgiving, Gratitude and My Earth Angels

I’m taking a break from my adoption stories as I’ve had difficulty trying to find the right words to explain each one. The stories will come when the time is right. Since this is a season of gratitude and giving I’d like to tell a personal story of my family growing up. My parents taught me to be grateful, that wealth had nothing to do with money, and to offer a hand to those in need. They are greatly missed during the holiday season, but their love and lessons remain strong in my heart….

Today I am thankful for my family who raised me and all the challenges we had because it taught me compassion for others. I’m especially grateful to my mom for her courage, perseverance and staying true to her principles, and my dad for his warmth, compassion, wonderful stories, positive attitude and unconditional love. Both were always there to lend a helping hand to others.

 I want to share my favorite Thanksgiving story, as I remember it, which was told by my mother during a Sunday service at our church in an effort to raise money for the families we were trying to feed that Thanksgiving season. The church had gotten very few donations that year and asked my mom if she would speak at the service to help others understand what a difference a meal can make in a family’s life. My mother stood nervously (she hated public speaking) in front of the congregation and began to tell a story of our family that I had never heard before. I was a young teen at the time and was extremely moved by what I was about to hear.

You could have heard a pin drop as she began speaking. As the story unfolded she told of our family, with five young children between the ages of 3 months to 10 years, and a husband who was not well. It was the holiday season, but our home lacked the usual holiday cheer. My dad had grown very ill, was hospitalized, and unable to work. He was not improving and had a tube in his throat to help him breathe. My mother went in to visit him one day, and was told she should draw up a will as my dad would probably not make it until tomorrow. This was in the early 1960’s when many women mostly stayed home to raise the children and their husbands worked. My mother had only a high school education and was a busy stay-at-home mother, volunteering with several organizations and involved in her community. She sat down with my dad and together they scratched out a will while he was in and out of consciousness, and she went home and called our pastor. He came to visit her, and then my father at the hospital, said a prayer with him and left for the evening.

With my dad still hospitalized, my mother faced the holidays boldly with five young children, not knowing how she would feed us on a daily basis, and uncertain how she would have a holiday celebration. Mom’s mom died when she was only nine years old and although she was strong, she did not want her children to experience the loss of a parent as she had. We were barely scraping by, but my mother fought to hang on to our home and security. Holidays were important in our home and we celebrated big for each one of them. My parents did not have big celebrations in their home growing up so it was very important to both of them to raise their children differently; to know the importance of family and celebration.

Mom was not a selfish person and did not feel worthy of a miracle, so even though she prayed regularly she would not ask for a miracle. “Who gets a miracle?” she would ask. And “why do I deserve a miracle rather than someone else who may need it more?” But miracles being what they are and the universe in its infinite wisdom would see to this one for her, along with many earth angels. After the pastor left my dad that evening he did not go home. Instead he went back to the church and made many phone calls. He then added my family to the list of families that would not be having a Thanksgiving dinner and asked the church family to help provide a meal and a happy holiday for this soon-to-be widow and her young children.

That Thanksgiving Eve my family would receive two miracles! The door bell rang and there stood a group of people with arms and bags full of food and love, not only for the holiday but for the week ahead as well. They also volunteered to cook and care for us kids so my mother could be at the hospital with my dad. She was so filled with gratitude! As they cooked and prepared the meal, and babysat and entertained me and my siblings, Mom left to spend her final day with my dad. She was about to receive the second miracle. She cautiously entered his hospital room afraid of what she would be facing that day. As she opened the door there SAT my dad on the edge of the bed, EATING! Beside his bed stood a big and tough looking nurse who was an Angel on Earth and had saved my dad’s life that night before. She watched as another nurse adjusted his tube. She saw what was wrong—they had put the tube in wrong and instead of providing the oxygen he needed, it was cutting off the air instead. She grabbed it from her and told her in no uncertain terms that she was doing it wrong. She placed the tube in right and within minutes my dad was back! He still had a long road to good health, but he would recover to live and prosper and to see his children have children. My dad was strong yet gentle, friendly, fun and my friend and hero. Dad or Mom never missed an opportunity to reach out to others and were a constant reminder to me to give from my heart.

Blessings to all this holiday season and may you find gratitude for all you have and take advantage of an opportunity to offer a hand to someone in need. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

With gratitude to all the Earth Angels in my life past and present,                 Pam

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