My uncle, who has made the same Thanksgiving dinner since 1987, died last year, suddenly. The word “suddenly” doesn’t even do justice to the speed with which he was there and then wasn’t. No one has planned the menu for the holiday this year. It’s like how if you call my grandmother, my uncle’s voice still greets you from the answering machine—he recorded over my grandfather’s voice when my grandfather died. No one has had the guts to go next.
My grandmother is still in shock. She is almost 98 years old and she never expected to outlive her husband, her son-in-law, and her son. Will she be able to churn out her annual tart apple pie? My father would kill for that pie. He used to elbow me after tasting it and say, “When are you going to ask your grandma to teach you to bake that pie?” I’d retort, “You want pie, ask her to teach you to bake.” Then we’d both settle down comfortably on the couch and read something.
The men in my family were taken down one by one and now, as the smoke clears, I wonder who is going to carve the turkey. My older brother Adam and I led the seder last year for Passover, but we did it from the kids’ table. Will Adam be able to take a stab at the bird? A thirty year old without a wife or children makes a pretty half-assed patriarch. I would be worse: I’m female, and a vegetarian. The turkey would laugh at me. I don’t even like pie.
To make matters worse, the day after Thanksgiving we’ll gather at the cemetery for my father’s unveiling. Gives a new meaning to “Black Friday,” doesn’t it?