Alva Review-Courier -

Facing the holidays alone


December 4, 2019

I felt trepidation as Thanksgiving approached. Having been widowed in March, it was the first major family holiday I would celebrate without Lynn. It was also the last family gathering he had been able to attend. We planned to drive to Ponca City for Christmas last year, but that morning he said he just couldn’t go.

Psychologists tell us that holidays can be a difficult time for those who have lost a loved one. Holidays provide constant triggers for memories, which can lead to sadness and grief.

The days before Nov. 28 seemed filled with bad news. We learned of the death of a former Review-Courier/Newsgram news reporter, Jim Stout, who lost his battle with cancer. A niece in Texas told the sad news that her father passed away on Nov. 26; he had esophageal cancer like Lynn. Then we learned of the death of former state legislator Elmer Maddux, also from cancer. My anticipation of seeing family was tinged with a feeling of sadness.

As I drove alone from Alva to Ponca City in the light rain, I listened to music on the radio and remembered how Lynn liked listening to audio books while driving. He usually played the audio through the vehicle speakers. I’d get interested in the story, but I never learned the ending of some of the books.

Immediately on arrival, I was caught up in family news. My youngest granddaughter could hardly wait to introduce me to Pluto, her new parakeet. She provided me with all sorts of information about parakeet care.

It was enjoyable catching up with the twin granddaughters who are college students, one in Kansas and one in Missouri. Another granddaughter is a high school senior, and my grandson is a junior. All but the youngest are taller than me.

Kat, her husband and the two great grandchildren arrived and livened up the house. My son-in-law’s parents were the last to arrive. We missed the recently married granddaughter who is living in Connecticut.

My daughter pulled me aside to give me a new school picture and a Christmas gift for her dad, blue poinsettias for his grave. His favorite color was blue.

Food was arranged buffet style, and after a prayer we started filling plates. As we ate, we exchanged more family news. My son-in-law was recovering from knee surgery done the day before. When we explained to little Brie, age 2, that the strange bandages on his knee meant he was hurt and the crutches helped him walk, she burst into tears in sympathy.

As we enjoyed dessert, Kat told us her strategy to protect her ice cream supply. She tells her daughter that whipped cream is ice cream. That triggered a memory. I told her a story from when Lynn was little. His parents said it seemed a bit cruel in retrospect, but when they went out for ice cream cones they didn’t want him covered in dripping sugary cream. So while they enjoyed their ice cream cones, poor Lynn was given an empty cone.

Later we gathered for family pictures, a Thanksgiving tradition for us. Lynn always wanted a family picture for our annual Christmas cards.

Relaxing later, we encouraged big baby smiles from Isaiah, 5 months. Brie is learning lots of new words. For a while, every color was purple. Now she knows better. While checking her color knowledge, her aunts asked the color of her outfit (white with a green pattern). She immediately said, “Ribbit.” She kept insisting it was ribbit. I looked more closely and realized the pattern was green frogs on lily pads. She was right!

Too soon it was time to drive back to Alva to get the Friday paper printed and ready for distribution. As I drove, I reflected on the day. Connecting with family always lifts my spirits. It was a good day. I could imagine Lynn watching us and smiling. Now I’m looking forward to Christmas.


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