For some reason, this memory has been in my brain a lot this last week--it is sweet, but also so sad to remember-- so I am writing it here to see if it will get out of my head. I know I am thinking about it because Christopher and Katie will be here in a few days and the time of year and memories and sentiments and emotions and feelings, and such is life, happy celebrations swirl together with sadness and memories and that is a normal and beautiful thing. Also, writing it down will help me to never forget it and always cherish it and what it meant.
When Dad was in his final weeks, we had a lot of people bringing food to the house. Dad was in a hospital bed in his and Mom's room--he didn't want to get in the bed, because he knew he would never be able to get out of it, and although we all had hope that he would, we knew that wasn't very likely. Because we knew he might not make it to Christmas, Katie and I put up all the Christmas decorations in the house so that he could have some Christmas one last time. His bed was facing into the living room, and the tree is an umbrella tree (fuller at the top--so to keep the cats out of it) and is left up all year round with different glittery ornaments, so we put a lot of Christmas ornaments on it and colored lights so he could see them. He mentioned a lot about how he especially loved seeing the blue lights. I think blue lights are the favorite lights for everyone in the Reid family.
So we had all this food at the house--the daily leftovers from Horse Face Harry's (generously donated by the owners David and Rhonda), Goldies BBQ (my favorite food, and a Vicksburg staple), grease and catfish and meaty beans and thick heavy Southern fare. We would freeze some of it, cause we knew we would really need it after Dad died (I feel weird writing that, cause we were getting ready for him to die, and even typing this it feels so surreal that it is so matter-of-fact and that we could know this was going to happen, and we could see past it, but how did we ever function and comprehend it?) We were existing in this altered state of reality, and one day, Dad was on the phone with a family member, having a nice chat, when she asked if there was any kind of food that we needed. I was in charge of a lot of the meal preparations and inventory and fortunately was in the room with Dad at the time. He put the phone to his chest and asked me if there was anything that we needed. I told him, Yes--we need more vegetarian food. (In the South, most everything is cooked with fat and grease and bacon and bones and stock, so vegetable dishes can be chocked with meat. Christopher and Katie are vegetarians, and have mastered how to eat vegetarian in Vicksburg, but their choices are very limited, not to mention when you are at the hand of what others are cooking.) While Mom, me, Fuzzy, Linda, Memaw Reid and everyone else in the house could just fix a plate, Christopher and Katie had to cook their own meals every day.
I will never forget the look on his face, like a light went off. It was sincerity at its purist--he loved Christopher so much and wanted to be able to take care of him and his sweet wife. Dad was relieved and happy that I had thought of them, was amazed as to how humble the two of them were to not complain about the lack of edible food for them, and was so happy that he could actually ask for something that was needed, and so he told her that we needed more meatless food. This, it turns out, was the perfect way for her to help out, because she at one point had been a vegetarian for over 10 years. Dad was so filled with love of the care and help of family that he started crying. He wept and wept and laughed with relief that there was a need and someone to fill it, and he wept with joy that his son and daughter-in-law would be looked after and taken care of. It was a beautiful moment.