Overcoming Melancholy at Thanksgiving

I haven’t posted in a while. Now that we are past Thanksgiving, 2013, I can begin to move forward.

Thanksgiving 2013 marked 25 years without my mother and 20 years without my dad. Both died the week before Thanksgiving five years apart from each other. The first few years after they died were the toughest. As the years progress the holiday would go by and I would remember the dreary anniversary after the fact.

This year it hit me though. Not enough to put me into a tailspin of grieve, but enough to throw me off my normal activity level. Fortunately I didn’t have to add deployment anxiety on top of grief this year. My oldest son is stateside for now and not scheduled to deploy any time soon.

I learned a lot from both my parents. Something my mom told me in the weeks before she died stays with me. She told me, “People want to help. You just have to tell them how.” This conversation took place in the context of her needs for transportation to medical appointments. My sister carried the lion’s share of the load since she lived near them. My mom wanted us to know we should give people a task if they offered to help.

Jachai reads the letter form Mark Wood as JaVair looks on. photo by Stanley Leary

Jachai reads the letter form Mark Wood as JaVair looks on.
photo by Stanley Leary

I learned through the illness and death of both my parents to appreciate people while you are with them. Let the people around you know you appreciate them. It is said the biggest regret people have is not telling a loved one you care.

My mother’s words came back to me this Fall. As the result of letting someone know about a need, I had the privilege of bringing good news to a young man and his single mother. It was the perfect way to move out of the fog of grief and move into gratitude.

Jachai is a friend of our daughter’s. He is a gifted musician. Through is orchestra program in middle school he met Mark Wood a violinist and founder of the Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp and the Mark Wood Music Foundation. Mark met Jachai and gave him a scholarship to his camp. This past November Jachai was invited to appear with. Mark and nine other students in a concert in Salt Lake City.

A few weeks before his trip someone broke into his sister’s car and stole his viola. When I heard the news of the stolen viola, my mother’s words came to me. I emailed the staff at the Mark Wood Music Foundation and told them about the stolen viola. Within a couple of weeks I received word that the foundation would give Jachai a new viola. They asked me to present it to him on their behalf.

He was thrilled beyond words with his new viola. photo by Stanley Leary

He was thrilled beyond words with his new viola.
photo by Stanley Leary

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I called Jachai’s mom, JaVair, and asked her to bring Jachai and meet me half way between their home and ours. I assured her it was good news.

My husband and daughter joined me so we devised a plan to surprise them. Stanley and Chelle went in to the restaurant before me to set up their camera and video camera. Chelle text me when they were set.

I walked in carrying two viola’s Chelle’s and the new one. The look of surprise and appreciation was priceless. The rest was caught on video and still images. You can see Jachai and JaVair in this video.

All it took was an email and the kindness of others took over from there.

Wouldn’t it be a great world if each day we looked around us and asked, “What can I do to help my neighbor?”

A wonderful way to start Thanksgiving. Photo by Stanley Leary

A wonderful way to start Thanksgiving.
Photo by Stanley Leary

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