My whole life, Thanksgiving, has been spent with family, either locally or out of town, but this year, due to the rising COVID infection rates, the stay-at-home orders, and the need to keep our parents and family safe, we decided to stay home and video chat with our families.
Sadly, as fate would have it, the physically distant Thanksgiving did not go as planned. On the eve of Thanksgiving, I found myself in the local emergency room, with severe abdominal pain, ultimately, being admitted to the hospital only to find out that I would require surgery to have my gallbladder removed.
I know what you are thinking, being hospitalized is no way to spend Thanksgiving and I wholeheartedly agree. If I had my way, I would have been at home making a tasty, non-traditional meal for my family, reflecting on how thankful I am for the life and family I have been blessed with. So, while my husband and daughter ate a sparse Thanksgiving meal together, I was in a hospital bed, miserable, missing my family, barely coherent due to a morphine induced slumber, all the while experiencing symptoms of a disgruntled gallbladder; wishing for relief so I could feel better.
I am not the first of our family to spend time in the hospital over the holidays; my mom, a retired nurse, spent most holidays working, however, regardless of which holiday she worked, we regularly hosted Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at our house, and it was not unusual for us to host a large number of guests at our dinners. My parents always opened their home to those who needed a place to go and because of this, they often invited their co-workers or friends, like our elementary school crossing guard, who had no immediate family, to enjoy a wonderful, home cooked meal and holiday cheer with our family. When my mom was working, my sisters and I were in charge of cleaning the house and prepping dinner. Thankfully, she always left detailed instructions so we could start preparing the meal for that evening.
As I spent the next few days in the hospital, I recalled the countless hours my mom spent helping others in their time of need. I was also reminded of the sacrifices she made so that our family could enjoy holiday gatherings.
It has been four weeks since my unexpected surgery and I still find myself thinking about my hospital stay, family, Thanksgiving, and the sadness I have from losing not only my gallbladder, but precious time spent with loved ones. However, between then and the writing of this column, the most wonderful time of the year has come and gone and while I never really felt the holiday cheer, I came away with a renewed appreciation for my mom and the sacrifices she made for our family. For that, I am thankful.
Andrea Palladino Perez writes her column for alternate Sundays. We’re very happy she’s back and feeling better.