All I wanted was to feel close to Mom on Thanksgiving. Were the heavenly angels listening?
By Lonnie Parker-Janszen, San Antonio, Texas
Another Thanksgiving without Mom, I thought, picking halfheartedly at my turkey and stuffing. This was a particularly hard holiday since Mom's death because food and family were her hallmarks. Mom worked as a short-order cook at the old H.L. Green drugstore in downtown San Antonio. I would grab a seat on one of the big swivel stools, and no matter how busy Mom was behind the counter she'd always stop to hug on her "babies" and fix us a grilled cheese or a thick milk shake. Always there with a kiss or a kind word or some little treat to make us smile—that's the sort of mom she was. The sort of mom she was, I reminded myself, pushing away my barely touched plate. I need to feel that love again today.
After dinner my husband, Andrew, and I decided to drive to Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery where Mom was buried. I must have been preoccupied with memories of her when I drove right past the entrance to the cemetery.
"Don't worry," Andrew said. "Turn in here." We rounded a corner and saw a big yellow "Garage Sale" sign.
"A garage sale on Thanksgiving Day?" I said.
Andrew shrugged. "Why not?"
We continued to wind our way through the neighborhood hunting the road to the cemetery, but eventually even Andrew admitted we were lost. And everywhere we looked we kept seeing those darn yellow signs. Plus one of our infamous Texas thunderstorms was brewing, hardly ideal conditions for visiting a cemetery. Looked like my plans were all wet. This was exactly the kind of moment when Mom would have done or said that little something to make everything seem okay. What I wouldn't give, Lord, to feel Mom's loving presence once more.
The cemetery would have to wait. Andrew agreed. "I know you're disappointed, but we might as well stop at that yard sale before it rains," he said. "We can't seem to get away from it."
"Sure," I said.
We pulled up to the curb and got out. I wandered through displays of used clothing, dishes and toys. On one table I spied a bag of old tin cookie cutters like the ones I'd lost in a flood years ago. Mom was always buying me cookie cutters to replace them, but I'd never found ones I liked as much. She never gave up, though, as if she could make me feel better with the perfect cookie cutters.
"How much for the cookie cutters?" I asked the woman running the sale.
She examined the bag. "Those were my neighbor's. Let me ask."
The woman handed me the cookie cutters while I waited. I hadn't noticed before but printed on the bag was the name Jennie. I looked up to heaven. Mom, are you trying to tell me something? That was Mom's name, too.
And only Mom would know they were exactly like the ones I'd lost. Now it really felt like a day for giving thanks.