"Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses."
Thanksgiving is one of my all time favorite holidays, for years I didn't celebrate Thanksgiving, I'm not really sure why, it was just another day off for me. Then, when I started dating Frank we began blending our families and the traditional Thanksgiving dinner was born in my home.
When Frank and I first started celebrating Thanksgiving it would be Frank and I, my daughter Margaux and his two younger boys, Ben and Jacob. We would put a turkey in the oven then head to the Seaton trail for a hike. Upon our return I would cook the vegetables. I make amazing mashed potatoes and over the years I taught my daughter how to whip them just so, and it is now her job to mash the potatoes. Over the years our thanksgiving celebration grew to include Franks 3 older children, Brian, Lianne and Lori, their partners and over time their children.
For several years we lived beside an apple orchard so we with the permission of our neighbor Steve we could gather fallen apples for fresh apple crisp, this too is Margaux's specialty, she makes one for us almost every Thanksgiving. Lianne now brings the turkey and all the fixings so our meal comes together through the efforts of all of our family.
My Grandma Rena, who is still alive at the age of 93, is a quilter. Over the years she would save worn shirts, clothing, and pieces of fabric. She would sew them together to create patch work quilts. I loved these quilts which sometimes would have pieces of my Grandpa Sam's old checkered shirts in them. I like to compare our family to one of her quilts; we have been patched together with love and time. I am Frank's 3rd wife and he had children with his 2 previous wives. Margaux is my daughter from my first marriage. Some of the older children have remarried or separated. Yet within our family there is so much love that it's hard to believe we came together through the hardships of divorce. Over the years, lines of separation have fallen to the wayside and we have become stitched together with love and respect. I couldn't imagine my life without Frank's kids; they have brought so much to my life. This past year in our family we have experienced illness and other events that would seem from the outside looking in to be catastrophic; it has been challenging (to say the least) on so many levels. We have watched some of our kids struggle with their own personal battles.
As well, we have had to deal with Frank's ongoing battle with cancer. And yet out of this stress has risen a stronger closer family, I grew to see my stepson Brian on a whole new level. He is an amazing father. My stepdaughter Lianne has been a rock for her father. Lori in her own quiet way has been dealing with her own health issues not wanting to bother her father. Franks son Jacob and his partner Jenny have been a godsend to the family moving from Scarborough to Brooklin to help out. Then of course there is my daughter Margaux, she has been there for me during the scary days at the hospital waiting for Frank to come out of surgery, she has been there for Brian helping him with his children. She tells me all the time how grateful she is that I married Frank and how much she loves him, her step brothers, step sisters and her nieces and nephews.
"If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough."
You see change does work out, I write about change all the time and having the courage to follow your heart. While I did just that, I fell in love with Frank and followed my heart. I thought about the risk, past failed marriages, kids, a 14 year age difference. But I believe in real love and that love conquers all and that in all my actions if I personally put love first there is always a way. I don't need flowers or false words; I value family, respect and integrity. There were times that our relationship was hard, but the quiet whispers in my heart would tell me to keep trying to find a way to make it work, that love was the answer and that love was not always fireworks and flowers.
So Thanksgiving is the first holiday that Frank and I celebrated as a couple and it was the beginning of our amazing family, where we created new traditions and where our children could come home and see happy parents, who love each other.
One of the things we do at Thanksgiving dinner (which our kids used to hate), is we go around the table and say one thing we are grateful for, in the early days it was often things like South Park, the mashed potatoes' or Nintendo. But our kids have grown now and with it their gratitude has changed. While we still get some pretty funny comments, there are always some that are so deep my eyes well up with tears. I feel so blessed to be Mom/Stepmom/Grandma to these amazing souls.
So this year as always I am grateful for my family, during tough times they have all shown true love and strength. I am grateful for Frank, he taught me so much about myself, through his love and patience I have become a better person. I am grateful for his wonderful oncology team, the doctors and nurses who have shown him compassion beyond what I could have ever imagined. I am grateful we took the chance and moved to Brooklin, this business, this town, these have been some of the best years of our lives. My staff is amazing without them I don't know how I could have coped. I could never forget to mention our close friends Bill, Charlie, Doug and Paul, these men have personally gone out of their way to support Frank and I during his illness, .But most of all I am grateful for the last 18 years with Frank the ups, downs, twists and turns are something I would never change, looking back over the years he has been my friend, lover, teacher, mentor, partner and husband. Our relationship reminds me of the trails I love to run on, there have been breathtaking highs, some lows, some challenging rocky areas and times where the beauty made it all worth while.
At night I lie in bed and before I go to sleep I say thank you for the day, no matter what. This is not always easy these days and sometimes tears flow down my checks as the fear of Franks illness creeps into my mind, but I try to stay grateful that our souls came together and the MacKinnon-Nicholson families blended. Each day we are reborn with a chance to make new changes. So in each day we can start over, have hope and know that in the end all we only have this day.