In the year 2000, I spent my last Thanksgiving with my father. I could say to you that I didn’t know it’d be his last one, but that’d be a lie. My father had already been battling cancer for three years by this point. Even the Christmas before, it didn’t look like he would make it through the winter. But here it was, ten months after that and we were gathered around the table to eat as a family.
We ate as a family for the last time that weekend. My mother, my father, my sister, my girlfriend (who ended up being my future wife) and me. The entire experience was awful; and not just because of my father’s cancer.
First of all, the dining room at my parents place now had a hospital bed in it. A bed that my father refused to sleep in. He preferred to sleep in his recliner. So, because this large bed was in the dining room, the dining room table moved into the spare room. A Pepto-bismal pink painted bedroom. It was enough to make you not want to eat.
But the worst part of the dinner was the hangover. My sister, my future wife and I had gone out drinking the night prior. Heavily drinking. We were destroyed the next day. So much so that my sister had to call me in the late afternoon to wake me up and see if I was still going to show up. We got to the house and at dinner, my sister drowned her plate of food in gravy. I couldn’t handle it, so I had to excuse myself for a moment.
At the dinner, my father knew what was up. Even in his morphine induced state, he knew we were recovering. He made fun of us. But he did so with a smile. Perhaps he saw youthfulness in us. Perhaps he enjoyed watching others suffer their own stupidity. I’ll never know.
So today, as you spend Canadian Thanksgiving with your friends and family, just remember that they may not be there next time.
My father wasn’t able to make one more turkey dinner…