Here in America, today is one of the most joyous days. It is Thanksgiving. A day that celebrates that fundamental cause celebre for humans beings – family relationships. It is a day that reminds us that in spite of some of the strains in family relationships (who amongst us does not have that weird uncle or that seemingly insufferable relative?), there is always a set of people who will be there by us when we need them the most. Even when everybody forsakes us.
And then there are people like Mr. G. Lying in the corner room of the hospice, he has no family, nor any idea that it is Thanksgiving. In fact, when I told him that it is Thanksgiving today, he smiled and said “Merry Christmas!”. In his bouts of slipping in and out of cognitive consciousness, he did answer me right when I asked “What do we eat today?”. “Turkey!”. But had no recollection of cranberry sauce or stuffing!
He literally has no family. He had been in the hospice for a long time before a very distant cousin (second cousin I believe) located him and paid him a visit.
But for all that, he is too preoccupied to miss the love of a family. He needs help for every thing he has to do. He cannot even sit up without somebody helping him. He cannot turn on his sides when he feels sore, he cannot pull his blanket over himself when he feels cold and worse, with his fading speech and loss of memory of words, he can often not express what it is that he wants.
I am not sure what thoughts go thru one’s mind when you are physically incapable of doing anything. Who do you thank when you reflect on life? Are you too unhappy/angry with current state or are thankful for everything you still have? Would it have been better if nobody reminded you that it is Thanksgiving so you will not miss it and the day would pass for you just like yet another day?
Eventually, he got tired and wanted to sleep. As I put the blanket over him, he murmured “Come back again” and went off to deep sleep.
For all the thoughts I was having about Mr. G as I started walking down the corridor, a more important sight caught my eyes. There were about half a dozen staff milling around… helping the residents. These staff, I am sure do have family at home. But they had to adjust their celebrations so as to make sure the residents were cared after.
It was very difficult not to feel thankful for everything I have. And perhaps take them for granted.