I knew the day would eventually come. I tried my best to not dwell on it, as it was just too painful, too final. Thursday, October 11, that dreaded day came. There was no more denying it or refusing to think about it.

I stood in the midst of emptiness as I allowed my mind to remember…

  • I could see with my mind’s eye my mother lovingly at work preparing supper as she did for almost 58 years in her kitchen.

  • I stood in the empty dinette and remembered as we sat around the table every afternoon at 4:15 pm for supper with my dad at the head of the table.

  • I could hear the giggles and shrieks of excitement from my three girls as they played cards with their grandfather around that same table.

  • I took one last glance into the living room and I could see the Christmas tree in the picture window, all of the lights off as I made my way to bed and just taking one last look at the icicles glistening on the tree.

  • I looked out that picture window where I watched many a winter night, the snow falling illuminated by the street light, wondering if there would be school in the morning.

  • It was in that living room on Christmas Eve 1973 that I proposed to Nancy as we listened to Christmas music softly playing.

  • I walked to my empty bedroom that I shared with my brother Tommy. I confess, as a youngster, I was a rocker. I would rock back and forth… back and forth… and I could hear my poor brother say, “Would you please stop and just go to sleep?”

  • I glanced into my parent’s bedroom. I vividly could see myself walking into their room and peeking into the crib and seeing my baby sister, Brenda, for the very first time. I thanked God for this new addition to our family and remember thinking, she is much bigger than I expected.

  • As I stood in the hallway, I could hear my father teaching Brenda, as a toddler, the Lord’s Prayer.

  • I stood in the basement one last time and could see the many folding tables set with enough food on them to feed a small army. The basement filled with family, each taking their place at the table.

  • I stood in the yard and looked around, and there I saw my brother and me with the wheelbarrow picking up rocks before we were allowed to go swimming. So many rocks… so many hours of picking them up, one by one, so our dad could finally plant grass, and we could have a yard to play in. In recent years, my grandchildren were blessed to reap the benefits of playing in the huge front and back yards.

  • As we left and were standing in the garage again, my memory took me back to the many garage picnics (who doesn’t enjoy a garage picnic?) and the birthday parties celebrating my mother’s and Lee Ann’s birthdays.

I am finding it difficult to type with tear-filled eyes. Yes, the day came, and I remembered.

We stood in the kitchen one last time as I offered the following prayer: “Thank you God for this home that our dad built with his own two hands. Thank you for the love that was found within this home. We now thank you for the gift of memories. And now bless the young couple who will now make this their home; may it continue to be filled with love. Amen.”

This will be the first Thanksgiving without my mom. This will be the first Thanksgiving that will not be spent in the home my dad built in 1960.

I am making the decision here and now to remember and to give thanks for the past, the present, and what is yet to come. The season of grieving will continue, but I will do so with a very grateful heart, for I am blessed by God. I will do my best to live my life as a blessed and thankful child of God.

As we once again approach Thanksgiving, it is my prayer that you too will be able to lift your voice in thanksgiving and adoration to our gracious God who never leaves our side and continues to bless us abundantly. May our thanksgiving be more than words, but a way of living… an attitude of gratitude.

Pastor Russel