Live, an Assembly of God take-home paper, published this article of mine for Thanksgiving, 2012. This week, my heart fills with gratitude for what God has done for me, so I decided to reprint the article today. I pray you enjoy it.
The pastor’s sermon blazed through my mind. He advised we keep an “attitude of gratitude” and quoted, “In everything give thanks: (1 The. 5:18a.)”
My dry, thirsty spirit longed for the peace the pastor spoke about, so I was willing to try. I prayed, “Lord, help me be thankful in everything.”
That night, my mother died while talking to me on the telephone.
When it rang, my house overflowed with daughters and sons-in-law. My joy was complete, and it was easy to be grateful.
“I think I have pneumonia,” Mom said.
“Have you called the doctor?”
“Yes and I have an appointment tomorrow, but I feel…..” Her voice trailed off. I heard a gasp.
I gripped the receiver as if it were her life vest. “Mom?”
I waited. “Mom? Are you okay?”
My heart raced. My legs couldn’t carry me the one hundred and thirty miles to her home. She had to answer. “Mom?”
A gurgle sounded then total quiet.
By this time, my husband held me.
I doubled over in pain. “Mom,” I screamed into the phone.
He pried it from my fingers, listened and hung up. “We need to call the emergency number. Do you want me to?”
I shook my head and dialed. I gave them the address and explained what I heard. “I’m an only child. She lives alone, so if you get no answer, you have my permission to break in a door or window.”
My tears soaked my husband’s shirt. He told them to call us. “We’ll be there in about two and a half hours.”
My body convulsed. My family surrounded me. I don’t remember but I know my husband tucked me into the passenger side of our car, and we drove off.”
While our car sailed along the highway nearing Dallas, my husband clutched my hand across the center console. I felt an encouraging squeeze. “It will be alright.”
But, a sick feeling flipped my stomach upside down. Breathing became a silent struggle to survive. I heaved in laboring pants identifying with the one who gave me birth, my number one fan on earth.
Another phone call gave us the hospital name. After we parked near the door, we rushed inside.
A kind nurse directed us to a small room.
A doctor entered. He confirmed what I suspected. They were never able to revive my mother. Her last words were to me on the phone. I followed him to a cold, clinical room. Mother’s body was rigid. “Good bye,” I spoke the words but my heart refused to accept the facts.
My husband led me out. He looked me in the eyes. “She dreaded going into a nursing facility more than anything. We can be thankful she died in her own home while talking to you.”
Thankful? I remembered my promise to be thankful in all things. I prayed again. I really tried.
My next call came from my baby daughter. Her husband had completed his tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force in Korea. She wanted me to know he’d be there for the funeral. “But, now I know we’ll be stationed at North Carolina.”
Already tender emotions melted into fresh tears. “That’s a long way from Texas.”
“Yes, but we’ll stay here for two more weeks.”
Two weeks? Thanksgiving Day would come in three. The coldness I’d felt in Mother’s hospital room crept along my veins like thick blood. “You’ll be gone for Thanksgiving?”
“Yes.” Her voice came soft and searing to my heart.
The next few days filled with so many things. God insulated me with a long to-do list and a shock-sedated system. Often, I faltered. I couldn’t go on. My husband and I prayed. God carried me through a few more hours. His mercy and love gave me rest when I could go no further.
My plans for the funeral.
The funeral itself.
Making decisions for Mom’s house and goods.
Helping my daughter pack to move.
Planning the Thanksgiving meal.
Holding tightly to my ten-month-old granddaughter that we kept every day while her mother worked. She was the new life out of the old. But, soon she would live fifteen hundred miles away.
In everything give thanks.
The Lord reminded me daily of my promise.
One week before Thanksgiving, my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter drove off. How could my heart keep pumping while loaded with so much heartache? How could I thank God for this?
Thanksgiving Day was bittersweet. My husband, the other two daughters and sons-in-law gathered around a feast cooked with both love and sadness.
Like a robot with fork in hand, I scooped good food and lifted it to my mouth without tasting the buttery, sweet flavors. Memories ran like escaped prisoners through my thoughts. My hand stilled.
“I thank God for the memories of Mother, of Cindy and Victoria.”
My husband held up his fork holding a piece of Cindy’s pecan pie she made and left for us. “In all things give thanks.”
I smiled. “I think we should stop now and pray again.”
My family laid down utensils and looked up at me as if I’d sprouted angels’ wings. We bowed our heads.
“On this Thanksgiving Day, give us an attitude of gratitude in every thing.” When I lifted my head, I saw smiles cross each face. I silently asked God to remind me of this time on the next trial. I knew there would be one.
Last November, I joined with others to post on Facebook something each day for which I thanked God. We should do this in prayer every day of the year.
Today, I'm thankful for the emotional healing God gave me twenty years ago this month.
What are you thankful for?