Thanksgiving Day is a time for family gatherings, and today I went to my ex-husband's house to share dinner with my girls. Jayne and Becca, Bill, the nephews Russell, Sean and Cody. and Jayne's boyfriend Tyler.
I am moving this weekend, so I spent my morning cleaning the new kitchen cabinets and light fixtures that somehow got overlooked by the cleaning crew, and we began moving boxes. By 1:00 p.m. we were already exhausted and came back to our home to shower and get ready for dinner. I made a green salad and we headed over the hill to Bill's house...my former home. There are so many memories for me in that house where I raised my children. I smile when I see something that I had left behind that they are using, like some baskets or dishes.
When Bill and I separated, he initially moved out. Later, when we decided to sell the house and formalize our divorce, he moved back in to the house and has lived there ever since as a renter. Andrew and Becca had been living with me back then, and when it became apparent we weren't going to retain ownership of the house, we tried to freshen it up to sell. Becca and I painted all of the rooms and Andrew started in on the kitchen. He stripped the old cabinets and Becca and I repainted the doors white. Andrew painted all the trim and faceboard a contrasting green color. It all matched with some wallpaper board I had hung in the adjoining dining room several years before. Anyway, when Becca went to college and I moved out, Andrew remained in the house, and I left a lot of things for his use before his dad and aunt and cousins moved in with him. Andrew lived there by himself for a couple of months. I hated to move and leave him there...that was such a depressing time for me. Andrew seemed to take it all in stride back then. How he really felt about it I will never know.
So as we sat down to prepare the feast prepared by my daughters and Tyler and Bill, I was surrounded of memories. The table we sat at had belonged to Rollynn, the nephews' mother, as her furniture was now in the house where my furniture had been. She died about a year and a half ago, and her husband Gary died in 2000. Memorabilia from the nephews' mother and father was all around us in knick-knacks, displays and photos. Andrew's photos were mixed in with theirs in a sort of informal shrine to loved ones we had lost.
I had brought my fiance and future stepson to the gathering, so we were a real mixed bag. A few years ago this gathering would not have been possible. But miraculously through all we have lost, Bill and I have regained a relationship of trust and understanding. We can come together as an extended family and remember our loved ones who are no longer here with us, and celebrate them together.
That is what I am Thankful for on this day.