With gratitude

 

This year more than any other continually challenged me to remember all that I have. On this day of giving thanks, I share the following entries from my mental gratitude journal.

Friends who feel like family. Near and far, I love you.

Everyone who helped (whether I asked for it or not) get me through two bad and unlucky injuries; three months in a wheelchair would have been horribly lonely not to mention on the edge of impossible without you.

Friends and family who encourage my writing, get my jokes, and listen patiently when I say,“last night, I had this dream..”

Hugs from my boys, growing into curious, caring, open-minded young men who still like to spend time together —and often with me too. (Though the younger one is pushing it with his insistence that the world looked like a black and white film way back when I was born.)

The honor of witnessing the union of Rachel and Sandra and seeing the looks on their kids faces as the deal was sealed.

My Latvian grandparents —dead more than 20 years— who rejected fascism and escaped tyranny en route to gaining passage to this great nation. (I’ve been wearing my grandmother’s ring as a reminder.)

Shelter. Creativity. Resources. Health insurance. Good skin. Wine. Fall foliage. Books. Yoga. Cats.

And while I’m at it, freedom of the press. Freedom of speech. Freedom to make my own health decision. The right to vote. A passport that can get me nearly everywhere.

The list goes on, but my pie needs to come out of the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving Eve

I like to feed people. It’s my way of expressing love. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I can’t imagine a better way to give thanks to those who are important to me than to make them lots and lots of delicious food.

I started baking on Tuesday. I made pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing as sort of a decoy dessert for the boys while I made the prime time offerings (and kept them off limits until Thursday).

Yesterday I baked three batches of cornbread muffins for use in the cornbread, caramelized onion, sage and pork sausage stuffing (a departure for me which represents a hybrid of recipes from my friend Lexa, the high maintenance Martha Stewart, and Chris Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen). I also made a bourbon pumpkin cheesecake because Colin has never had cheesecake, and frankly I don’t like pumpkin pie.

I had a long to do list for today: bake the apple pie, prep the traditional mushroom turnovers, prepare the stuffing, brine the turkey. Done. Done. Done. And done. I feel like there should be more “dones” because each recipe had numerous steps and/or components. But now I’m finished way ahead of schedule. Run of show is sketched out for tomorrow. Wine graces my glass. Life is good. A shower would make it even better.

I have a small crew for tomorrow’s festivities. The boys, my sister Meghann, my DC sister Rayanne, and Nancy and her crew for their second dinner. I would welcome double the numbers but I’m thankful that I get to be surrounded by these important people in my life.

But they better bring their appetites. I have lots of love to express.

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goodbye Lola Jane

Today we say goodbye to Lola Jane Maxwell Henderson, the first cat I owned in my own right and did not just lay claim to via family rights and roommate situations.

The first time I laid eyes this tiny fur ball, I knew she’d be mine, even though my “now ex, then future” husband proclaimed to be allergic.

I figured, there are drugs he can take for that.

I adopted her from a woman who saved her from the wild. She was about 4 weeks old when we first met and being bottle fed. While I didn’t bring her home until she was 8 weeks, I saw her almost everyday during that time. (My EPW friends might remember this period in my life when I had a “kitty in a box” in my office.)

In the last 13 years, in addition to providing us joy, purrs, and more than a few scratches, Lola has defied death twice.

First, after her spay, she chewed the narcotic “pain patch” off her torso and ingested it, sending her into a drug overdose and us to the Betty Ford Clinic for Cats in the wee hours of the morning. (There is never a good time for the off-hours Animal ER.)

The second time, she was diagnosed with a recurring form of bladder stones that would require repeated operations to remove. We had just given birth to Colin and were in the process of trying to buy a house, thus thousands of dollars in vet bills were not affordable. We begged for alternatives. Meds. Food. The vet said nothing else would work but surgery. Until we scheduled her euthanasia, of course, at which point the vet gave Lola prescription food which she ate for a month, the stone dissolved, and she never had a recurrence.

We don’t go to that vet anymore.

She survived the birth of two little boys. She tolerated their toddler years then eventually adopted them as her own. She routinely sleeps on Colin’s bed. She was pissed off at first when we brought Fang and Fluffy home but grew to accept them and even gave Fluffy the cat equivalent of a fist bump upon her return from the wild. (We’ve had quite the Cat Spring.)

But the vet says there are no more miracles for Lola. A tumor on her heart the size of a grape and additional tumors on her lungs make breathing labored, and while she hasn’t stopped purring, she’s in great discomfort.

In a selfish way, I want to keep her until the natural end, but I know this isn’t the right thing to do. This morning, a mobile vet will come over and help ease her out of her misery.

As Jack said this morning when he found me sobbing, “it’s her time, Mommy.”

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