MY LAST THANKSGIVING WITH PAT BOND
Thanksgiving was always the big holiday in my family. I think it was partly because as Jews, it was the one major holiday we could share with the rest of the country. Sure, there’s Fourth of July. But folks don’t fly home to be with their families for that.
No, Thanksgiving was IT. And it was always at our house. My mother owned Thanksgiving. She only missed hosting (until she became really old and wheelchair-bound) the year I was born on Nov. 27. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that marks time for me: "Oh yeah, that was the year I had it with Dory in Pennsylvania..." or "That year was in Modesto with my Auntie Hannah and cousin Miriam..."
Although I loved my mother's celebrations, my most memorable Thanksgivings have been away from home. In 1990, Pat Bond, whose writing is featured in HICK: A LOVE STORY, was slowly dying of lung cancer. Of course I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her in the hospital. She was always good company – especially after the doctor put her on anti-depressants. Very helpful when you’ve got lung cancer.
She shared a room with Ida, an African-American woman who was in a coma. I can’t say I was really looking FORWARD to this Thanksgiving, mainly because of Ida. I’m not even comfortable around quiet SHY people – let alone comatose. I WASN’T worried about the food. My hospital Thanksgivings have never been deficient in the food department. But the company this time – iffy.
ANHYHOW, Pat and I were quietly talking, waiting for the food to arrive, when a whole CLAN burst into the room! Adults and children, about 15 of them, laden with food! This was Ida’s family, who we’d never met before. She was the ruling matriarch, and there was no question where they would spend this holiday. It had to be with her in the hospital, even if she didn't even know they were there.
The whole family drew Pat and me to its collective bosom. We were in need of family, and they were happy to supply it – along with Thanksgiving dinner. Pat and I spent that day laughing and eating the delicious food Ida’s kids and grandkids had cooked. We heard stories about this fearsome Granny Ida who ruled with an iron hand when she was well. Maybe her family was particularly jolly because Ida was no longer cracking the whip.
So: Just because someone’s in a coma doesn’t mean she can’t throw a great party. It remains one of my favorite Thanksgivings.
Pat as Hick
|Me as Hick|