The past couple of years I've written Thanksgiving entries, agonizing over whether to be thankful and how, and what to be thankful for. Two years ago, there was this series. Before that, there were other Thanksgiving agonies - Thanksgiving 2003, for example, which was the one where I first learned how to apply the Heimlich maneuver, or Thanksgiving 2006, when I first had to conclude that he probably had Alzheimer's. I'll describe both of them in more detail shortly.
I thought last year was comparatively easy, and in a sense it was. But it was nothing next to this year. This year is absolutely straightforward. It's my first Thanksgiving since my father died and I'm thankful he's not here. Finally I don't have to worry about how he's spending the night, or that I'm spending it away from him. No need to think about whether the home health aides or the nursing home staff are looking after him properly. Tomorrow my wife and I will drive to Philadelphia to visit her family, and Friday we'll drive home, and I won't have to be concerned with anything outside of the trip itself.
As to the fact that it's my first Thanksgiving without him - well, no, it isn't. He was mostly gone for the last three of them. Once again - as in most things Alzheimer's - the grief is long in the past, and the end is about freedom, not mourning.
So I'm thankful for the freedom, too. And for the relief. Let's not forget relief.
Most of all, I'm thankful that he doesn't have to spend a weird, out-of-rhythm day, with temporary staff and unusual foods and bizarre spinning thought fragments and patterns that don't fit together.
Maybe he'll experience tomorrow as liberation, too. Maybe not. Hard to say.
But it's liberation nevertheless.
Happy Thanksgiving to all, and I hope you find the liberation you need.