Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Last year on Thanksgiving I flew to Florida to be with my Dad.  We hung around watching football all day.  He had clipped out a coupon for a turkey dinner at a diner about a half hour from his home. Then, instead, we decided to go to a Chinese restaurant close by.

So that's how we spent the last Thanksgiving we had together.  The fare was fine as far as I was concerned. Hot and sour soup, egg rolls, shredded beef or something like that in garlic sauce, and ice cream.  Bliss for me.

But Dad was glum--as he was for the entire nine month period between the time when my mother died and his own passing.  He could not get through the loss.  While I tried to point out the good news that was all around for which we should give thanks, like---we both were healthy, we were enjoying the day together, he had a nice home, both of his kids had done ok, he had enough dough in the bank to pay his bills and still go out for hot and sour soup whenever he so chose, the weather was good, Obama was president--no matter what I pointed out--it did not stick.

After the ice cream we went back to the house and watched another football game.  Dad and I always liked watching sports together.  And, if we want truth in history, that was not always easy to do when Mom was with us.   Still, he could not see the glass full.

Three months later he died from a broken heart. Three months after that his brother's wife, who was the last Zaremba standing from that generation, died in an automobile accident.

As kids, Thanksgiving was always at this aunt's home.  We would drive into Queens around 4 on Thanksgiving day and meet with my cousins, my dad's brother and sister in law.  My grandfather would come and sometimes my maternal grandmother would be invited to join us for the day.  We sat around their table in the duplex townhouse on Springfield Boulevard and, implicitly at least, gave thanks for each other's presence.

No more presence.  This year all of the parents are gone.  My cousins' dad--my uncle--died in the early 90s and now their mother is gone.  My folks gone in a nine month period.

So, my cousin has invited us all to Philadelphia.  We are all going down.  My cousin Sam from DC is coming up with his two kids to his brother's place.  My brother, nephew, his wonderful sweet kids Jack and Sophie, spouses, we are all meeting in Philadelphia.

Life goes on.  This life. We have it until we don't.  And when we don't we cannot embrace and give thanks.  As Andrew Marvel wrote in a poem with different motives, but appropriate words nonetheless "The grave's a fine and private place, but none I think in there embrace."

Embrace. Tell the ones you love, that you love. Give thanks.


  1. Hi Zeke Having Thanksgiving with your family in Philly is a great idea. Plenty of hugs. Though I never watched a ball game on tv with my Dad he did honor the important Jewish tradition of consuming Chinese food (usually at China View in Plainview). He just turned 96 , wears diapers, is in a wheelchair, and calls me Robert (one of my sons). His only gusto is at mealtime where he eats silently with three other guys in the same shape. Though we never got along I still love him, and feel he loved me in his own way. He hates visitors seeing him in his condition. I sometimes wonder how I will react when he passes. Don't expect much outpouring of emotion. Though he's still alive I miss the man he was. Fiercely proud and independent with a very successful laboratory equipment business. He was warm and personable with his friends and business associates, yet cold and critical with his own family. Anyway, have a good time in Philly. Eat a cheese for me. Take care. Gene

  2. Thanks Gene. China View is where we went as well when we lived in Plainview. Little bar when you came in to the right, then a bunch of booths going back toward the kitchen. You clearly describe your dad's state. I'm sure he loved you in his own way which was probably the only way he knew to love. And whether he calls you Robert or not, he knows--somewhere--who you are. I really believe that. If I have room for a cheese, I will think of you as it goes down. I will probably think of you anyway. Thanks for reading my musings. It makes me feel good to read your comments. Zeke