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Wednesday November 25, 2015

Q. At this time of the year, when everyone is thinking about being thankful, what do I have to be thankful for since my loved one has died?

A. It is true—this is the time when we pause to be thankful for the things that God has blessed us with during this year and even throughout our lives. When I pause to remember the things that God has blessed me with, I often recall memories of my father, with tears in my eyes. You see, I lost him at the young age of 19. I mourn those times that we never had, but in the same breath, I rejoice over memories of times that we shared. I smile when I think about his mischievous characteristics that he definitely passed down to his daughter.

When I think about that mischievous character, I recall the time that he suggested to me, then a 9- or 10-year-old, that we place an Easter basket in one of our neighbor's pea patches in the middle of his garden. As I recall this incident, there are a few important details that I must share: First of all, Mr. Stanley was the gentleman next door who found his pea patch had been invaded by the Easter Bunny. Mr. Stanley was, in his own right, someone whom I looked up to as well as my father. He worked for the Florida Department of Transportation, and every year, he and Mrs. Stanley—who could make the best Hoecake bread—would plant a garden. Of course, they would harvest the vegetables from that garden and then can them and store them for the winter months in Florida. Also, an interesting fact is that Mr. Stanley would keep a running tab of his garden, which means that he would check it early in the morning and again in the afternoon when he returned home from work.

One afternoon, my father explained to me that we needed to surprise Mr. Stanley with a quick visit from the Easter Bunny. Well, I was "right on" that little task as we began gathering various items to go into the basket. Then, we decided that I would need a stake on which to hang the basket, and that it would need to be placed early in the morning, shortly before Mr. Stanley left for work.

So, we gathered all of our materials and placed the basket into the center of Mr. Stanley's garden, because that is where he had planted his pea patch. After the basket had been placed by the "infamous" Easter Bunny, I returned home and got ready for school.

That afternoon, Mr. Stanley came in from work and made his way out to the garden. Then, he went back inside to take his shower before all of us sat down to eat supper together. After enjoying our meal, Mr. Stanley and I played a game of checkers. As we played, Mr. Stanley began to explain the events of his day. He said that he had been surprised by the Easter Bunny coming to visit him during the early hours of the morning. He smiled as he looked across the table at me, before adding, "It is the strangest thing—I never knew the Easter Bunny wore tennis shoes." Yes, I had been found out!

However, that memory will forever remain in my mind as a testimony of my father's mischievous character, in that he was the sole mastermind for the day that the Easter Bunny invaded Mr. Stanley's pea patch wearing tennis shoes.

As I have reflected over my experience with my father, I hope that you have reflected over your loved one's life, too. I hope that during this time, you have realized and gratefully recognized experiences and characteristics of someone who touched your life with a laughable moment, a gentle hand, a kiss, or an "I love you."

What do you have to be thankful for, during this season of thankfulness? You have the awesome opportunity to be thankful for that person who touched your life in such profound ways, and that you were able to share such fond memories together. Don’t forget that good memories are truly gifts from God that get us through rough times in life and periods of grieving.

―Saundra Yates, Bereavement Coordinator/Chaplain (Mount Airy, NC)

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Tags: Grief Support