I do not have a lot of photos of those times, but I have a treasure trove of memories in my heart.
An even earlier photo of Thanksgiving with my Grandpa Ivar holding me as a baby on his lap, Ruth, Nancy, my Great Grandmother, Steve, my Aunt Jean holding baby Roger, Kathy, and my Grandma Grace. Ivar came over from Sweden on the Lusitania, which on the return journey to Europe in 1915 was sunk by a German u-boat. He met my Irish grandmother and caused a near scandal amongst the very ethnic oriented communities of Chicago by falling in love with her. They were married for over 60 years. When she was dying in Florida, ravaged by dementia, he and I stood outside her hospital room and looked in at her lying there. She was smiling and he said to me, "look at her smile, she always had the most beautiful smile in the world. She is the only girl I ever kissed". Even writing that now still brings tears to my eyes. I miss them both dearly.
My dad in front holding Roger, Ruth, Nancy and Kathy, and in back my mom holding Trish, Ivar, Grace, Uncle Harry, and my Aunt Jean and my Uncle Roger, the neatest aunt and uncle a kid could have. Only my mom and Aunt Jean remain amongst the adults in this photo, and brother Steve is gone as well. My mom and my Aunt Jean are still living life to the fullest, and two of the most stunning women I know. The four men in this photo were the greatest male influences in my life, which most of the time is a hugely positive thing. They were wonderful men, beautiful and flawed in their own ways, and I loved each one dearly. How I would love for them to meet my sons Taylor and Charlie.
Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents in Chicago, little kids had to sit at the card table which would have meant Roger, Trish, and I. We still had fun. I can close my eyes and smell the turkey, hear the laughter, I can walk through each room of that house with unerring direction even though I have not been there for over thirty five years.
Being allowed my first crack at carving the turkey, a passing of the torch. The first left handed turkey carver in the family!
My mom and I in New Zealand , Thanksgiving 1998. The last time I celebrated Thanksgiving. I think perhaps I will organize a small gathering of family and a few friends here in New Zealand. My boys deserve to connect with, or at least be exposed to some of their culture and heritage. And even in a year such as this, with doom and gloom on every seeming horizon, there is still so much that I really need to recognize and Be Thankful for ..........
My family here in New Zealand. Tara's parents, Tony and Val, whom have taken me in without question as part of the family, and loved my children unconditionally and completely. Tara's sister Karley, another little sister in every way. Tara for simply being who she is and our journeys, together and apart. Taylor, my oldest son, the catalyst of so much in my life, a challenge and sometimes a complete joy in listening to his questioning of what is around him. And Charlie, an unexpected gift, keeping the eyes of a child upon me.
To the friendships I have grown here in Aotearoa. Nigel, John, Chris, and Erika. I find it harder as I get older to cultivate friendships, yet I have been blessed here to include a few people whom I consider family as well.
To the people who read here and share this place, and allow me to share theirs. To have connected, literally, with a small group of people from all over the world in this way has been such a joy. Each of you has taught me so much, and I am honoured to have you here. I thank you all.