It was the strangest Thanksgiving we had every had. Though the cast of characters hadn’t changed, we weren’t at my grandparents’ nor was there a home-cooked feast on the table.
Long tables in a sterile room.
Trays with compartments for each food item.Ice cream bar out of a deep freezer.
The Twilight Zone marathon on KTLA.
And nuns. Lots and lots of nuns.
PapaBear was convalescing after a coronary bypass. Like the mountain that was unable to go to Muhammad, we brought Thanksgiving to St. Mary’s Hospital.
The staff was wonderful. Patients are only in the hospital over a holiday if they are in critical condition. After all, no one would elect to have surgery when he could be ingesting abnormally amounts of rich, savory food at some odd hour in the mid-afternoon. With great compassion, the soft-spoken sisters created a festive atmosphere in the Doctors’ Lounge for our extended family.
Many memorable Thanksgivings have occurred since. That one, thirty some-odd years ago, remains one of the most potent experiences of my youth. The kindness of strangers and their desire to create sacred space for us was a welcomed respite from the stress of having a loved one in surgery. I think of them each Thanksgiving with gratitude.