By Dawn Krebs
This is one of my lasting memories of Thanksgiving, and will forever live in my heart as an example of what family truly represents. Enjoy your family, and have a good Thanksgiving.
In 1980 I was 14, living in a household with an eager-to-please mother and a strict ex-military father. I grew up with dinner being at the same time every night and my father could and would find fault with any mistake my mother might make. I never even saw them show affection toward each other.
About two years prior, my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Being a teenage girl, I was unaware of the seriousness of the disease. All I can remember is my mother being tired all the time. Despite her illness, every evening she had a hot dinner on the table. She didn't want to disappoint my father.
In the beginning of November 1980, my mother took a turn for the worse. I found out years later she had been diagnosed terminal at the beginning of the month. She now stayed all day in bed, getting up only to make the family dinner.
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, however, she was out of bed and shuffling around the kitchen, humming aloud. The holiday seemed to have given her renewed energy.
The change did not go unnoticed by my father. He watched her closely that week, and although he occasionally pointed out something she inevitably goofed up, he didn't believe in compliments, so he mostly kept quiet.
Thanksgiving Day came. That morning, my mother strictly warned every member of the family to stay out of her kitchen. She said she wanted to prove to everyone that she could still prepare a Thanksgiving dinner by herself.
We listened to her proudly bang around in the kitchen all morning. About 1 p.m. she appeared, pale and tired, but happy, and announced the turkey would be out of the oven soon and everything else was set to go. She wanted to take a short nap, and quickly fell asleep on her bed.
As soon as she was asleep, the entire family rushed into the kitchen to help out. But mother had everything completely done and ready to go.
As we were all trooping back into the TV room, my father stole a glance at the turkey that was due to come out of the oven. With a shock, we realized that the oven had never been turned on. The turkey still sat there, raw as could be, inside the cold oven.
All eyes went to our father.
He stood quietly for a moment. Then, warning us to stay quiet so mother wouldn't wake up, he took the bird, pan and all, put it in his car and drove off.
Within 20 minutes he was back and with him carried a fully cooked turkey, hot and steaming. Without a word, he put the pan back into the oven and quietly shut the door. He had driven the uncooked bird to one after another of our neighbors' homes, until he found one that not only looked like ours, but was almost cooked, as well. After a quick explanation, he had traded our turkey for theirs.
My mother woke up about a half-hour later and quickly busied herself setting the table for dinner. After everyone sat and grace was said, we did our family tradition of going around the table from one person to another, each one saying what he or she was thankful for.
When my mother's turn came, she proudly said, "I am thankful for the fact that I can still make a Thanksgiving dinner!"
She then turned and looked at my father.
"Is it OK?" she asked timidly. My father stared at her for a long time, then leaned over and tenderly cupped her face in his hands.
"It's perfect," he whispered softly, and gently kissed her on the forehead.