This Thanksgiving after our meal, I will have ice cream and pie for desert, in honor of Mr. O.T. Mitchell aka “Papa”.(my grandfather) “My Papa loved his ice cream and pie, so here’s to Papa!” I will say.
My Papa was as “old school” as they get. He was raised up in the Dust Bowl era in Oklahoma, and it wasn’t much fun there. He told me that when he got drafted for World War Two and went to boot camp, this was the first time he ever had “three squares a day” and he’d never imagined such a thing. I will quote him in saying, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me!” I didn’t understand, so I asked him, “Getting drafted into WW2 was the best thing that ever happened to you???” He replied, “I’d never seen so much food and I could eat all I wanted!” Then he told me, “Kyle I promised myself right then and there that me and my family would never go hungry again.” and he kept his promise. Papa knew how to enjoy a meal, because he had missed many of them.
The family gathered at Nana and Papa’s house every year for Thanksgiving, even after Nana fell ill and then left us. When Nana could no longer cook, and then after she passed, my mother and my aunt’s would do the cooking and getting the food on the table. Papa always sat at the head of the table and I can still here his deep voice playfully beckoning my Nana; “Aileen where’s my ice cream and pie?” Then she would say “It’s on the way O.T. Mitchell, you just hold your horses!” as she sat his plate of goodies down in front of him. Those two were from a world that I never knew, and so I always understood that I’d never appreciate a meal as much as they could.
My Nana’s bird bath is the center piece in our back yard, and I will make sure it is full of water, especially this Thanksgiving week. That is how I honor her not only during the holidays, but all throughout the year. She was always an avid bird watcher, and had many bird feeders in her yard. She didn’t like squirrel’s very much and spent a lot of time chasing them away with her bb gun. I can’t even see the bird bath without thinking of her and smiling.
I still miss them both. It is still hard to think about them for long without crying. And this is okay. They were the best of people, and they were my family, and we spent many holidays together, so why wouldn’t I miss them and wish they were still here? How could I not? But at the same time, I know that they would never want me to ruin a holiday because they have gone on. Death is a part of life. So I honor them in my own little ways, and then I enjoy the heck out of my holidays with the people who are here now.
So here are a couple of tips for dealing with missing your loved one’s this holiday season, and I truly hope this will be of some help to you:
1) Your feelings are normal and you should be feeling the way you are feeling. It doesn’t matter if you are missing someone who has been gone a long time, or if this is your first holiday season without them. If it hurts, it hurts, and that is okay. But carry on!
2) Do something about it! Find a way to honor those who you miss. Remember the good times and remember the lessons you learned from them, and let this be a celebration of their lives, rather than a mourning of their passing. Then be where you are, and pay attention to the people who are here now. Remembering the precious moments of the past is okay, but lets not miss the moment now.
3) If you think of it on Thursday, raise up a spoon full of ice cream and pie and say “This one’s for Papa!
Kyle Shiver is a husband and father, an inspirational speaker, meditation guide, and life coach. To listen to free audio talks and guided meditations, check out the PODCAST and subscribe!