Canadian Thanksgiving in just over a week away. In my family, it is a time to gather together, enjoying the warmth and love of each other's company, talking, eating and laughing. Sharing the bond that keeps us all close.
At this time of year, I always find myself reminiscing about past gatherings and the wonderful memories I carry with me in my head and in my heart.
It has been 19 years since my father died, five since Mum passed away, and almost three since my oldest sister, Laurel, was killed in a highway accident. Those three all live in my heart, with strong and special memories of each keeping me close to them.
This year, my oldest nephew and his lovely wife have recently relocated to Calgary so will not be with those of us who live in Winnipeg for the turkey fest. They will both be missed but knowing they'll be coming back at Christmas for a visit eases that.
My oldest and dearest best friend, Debbie, is coming up from Texas tomorrow. She'll be here visiting me, her in-laws and her mum and sister. She'll be here for Thanksgiving. She'll actually get two Thanksgivings this year, because she'll be back home in Texas for the American version next month.
I am so excited that she will be here - staying with me and giving us the opportunity to hang out together, which is something we really haven't done in a couple of decades to any great degree. We have been best buds for 36 years... I remember her telling me a few years ago that her oldest daughter (now 21 but then a teen) expressing envy at the length and apparent ease of our friendship. Debbie told her daughter that we both made the effort to keep our friendship alive and well - it didn't just do this on it's own. I don't think her daughter had any idea that you have to work at any relationship - even one with a girlfriend.
One of the poignant thoughts for me this Thanksgiving, although I no longer have my parents or my oldest sister here, is that Debbie doesn't really have hers either. Her dad died ten years ago. Her older sister (she just has the one sibling) is mentally handicapped, has OCD, paranoia and is a huge handful at the best of times.
Her mum, sadly enough, is now confined to a locked dementia unit in a local hospital, awaiting placement in a personal care facility that is equipped for the cognitively challenged. She now requires special care due to the severeity of her dementia and her increasingly aggressive behaviour. She is no longer a person that Debbie recognizes, just as she no longer recognizes her own daughter.
So Debbie doesn't really have any family left. She is like my own sister and I love her absolutely to bits. She will always be a part of my family, and now that hers is shrinking even smaller, I think this will become more important to her.
So my thanks goes to everyone in my family, for being who they are and for loving me for who I am. And also to my siblings for having always taken Debbie in as part of the family, as she's spent tons of time with them all when we were younger. For her loving me, for her supporting me in all the situations I have found myself involved in in my life, be they happy or sad, good or bad. She has always been there for me. I have always been there for her.
If two people could ever be soulmates, she and I are just that. We are connected, we think alike and have ESP when it comes to calling or when things happen to one or the other - we just seem to know.
So on this upcoming Turkey Day, Debbie will be joining me and my family, and she will be loved and welcomed in as one of the clan. I am glad she will be here... and I am glad I can be here for her.