Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving with God, By Yolanda Adele

It was 1991. Getting together with the family for Thanksgiving Dinner was not something that I was looking forward to, having lost my father, whom we called Popi, just two months earlier. Yet I felt an obligation to my mother and the rest of the family to be there to help alleviate the obvious void that was left in my parent’s home.

On holidays before my dad died the house and neighborhood had been filled with the sounds of Mexican music blasting from dad’s reel-to-reel tape-recorder. That tape recorder could play non-stop for 24 hours and sometimes did, often times to the annoyance of the neighbors, and always to the frustration of my mother, who was hard of hearing. I could hear it the minute that I turned on to their block in Huntington Park, though their house was almost at the end of the street.

Popi enjoyed having lots of activity around him, especially since my eldest daughter Yvette made him a great-grandfather, first with Jaime, born in 1986, then with Brandon who was born in 1990.

It amazed me to watch Popi interact with his great-grandchildren in a way that he never could with his own children. I came to realize that both grandparenting and great-grandparenting were God’s way of giving parents another chance to get the bonding thing right if they didn’t fare well the first time.

Jaime loved her Popi. The last time that she saw him alive she was five years old. She came with her parents to visit with Popi in his bedroom where he lay on a hospital bed. My mom called us to the kitchen to eat. I told Popi to rest and that we’d return in a bit.

After a while Jaime left the table. I got up to look for her. I went to the living room where her toys were spread out on the floor; she was not there. I checked in the bathroom; she was not there either.

I walked down the hall to my father’s bedroom. There I saw the sweetest sight. Jaime had somehow managed to squeeze through or climb over the hospital bed’s metal side guard and was lying on her side facing her Popi. They were both smiling at each other as Jaime gently stroked the top of his head.

Now the family gathered without any lively Mexican or any other kind of music playing. In fact the only sounds beside our voices were the harsh clattering of the dishes, and silverware. I didn’t know how I was going to get through this strained family gathering.

We held hands around the table and said grace. Then, with a voice like an angel, Jaime proclaimed, “Popi is so lucky. This is his first Thanksgiving with God.” Suddenly I felt all the bent up tension leave my body. A smoothing peace washed over me. Someone turned on the radio, filling the house with a joyful noise… then I knew Jaime was right.


  1. Dear Yolanda, What a wonderfully sweet memory of Popi and Jamie. She must be a magical caring child and her great love for her Popi, and his for her, has touched everyone. With your sensitive writing about your family Thanksgiving, that love has been spread to even wider circles. Thank you for sharing these heart felt memories.

  2. Through the eyes of a child truths be told! Jaime was right, Popi was lucky, he was spending Thanksgiving with God and revealing that truth was to you a comfort. It lifted your spirit and made the day truly a Thanksgiving Day. Not only a sweet memory of the tenderness your dad found in life and of your niece Jaime's love for him but believing in God's existence makes the memory truly memorable.

  3. Yolanda, your story is a wonderful reminder of how much we truly have to be thankful for, especially in the light of so many losses this year. It is good to celebrate those we love.

  4. Yolanda, Your story is so beautiful. The tears are just flowing down my face. Your story hits so close to home with my family and our experiences as both my parents past away. The children have such a tender innocence. It is really beautiful. I'm glad that your music is restored!

  5. Yolanda, this is a true Thanksgiving story about how life balances a loss with a gain. I know the feeling of peace you felt as I have felt it a few times also. Its hard to explain but wonderful to receive. I always love your stories they bring out emotions. Gloria