Thursday November 27 2014


Waking up around 10:45 a.m.

Everyone's up and about. Ana's pan-frying her homemade spring rolls in the kitchen using an iron skillet and coconut oil. The Thanksgiving parade is on the TV.

Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich with half a Banana and Green Tea.

My dad, Patty, Jennifer, Ana, and I all pile into my dad's latest car, a VW CC car, and drive to Grimesland for the official Thanksgiving Dinner at John D and Aunt Delores's humble farm house. I found a quote I used from last year's Thanksgiving, one Marcel Proust said, "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom." I encourage Ana and I to recite the quote in various accents and voice types.






Upon arrival Delores is in the process of cooking a batch of gravy. She explains that coffee is the secret ingredient. Ana and her connect right away and enjoy talking about food. It's a traditional southern-style spread set out in the kitchen. Like I said, Ana and I prepared ourselves to break away from our usual semi-vegetarian diet and just enjoy T-day cuisine. The dessert table is probably more plentiful than the entrees. Pumpkin pies, chocolate moon pie, apple cinnamon raisin bread, and everyone's favorite: the seven-layer chocolate cake to which Delores claims the secret ingredient is love. And it is definitely a noticeable ingredient.













The house fills soon after 2 p.m. with familiar family members and their respective kids and babies. We gather in a circle for the blessing and so begins the ultimate chow down. At some point we all wrap up and join the kids outside to kick the soccer ball around in the empty field nearby. Later, I pull out the guitar for Ana and I to do our Johnny Cash and oldies covers. Both our voices are warmed up just right and we're able to bless everybody with music.

My cousin Vicki says to me about Ana, "She sings. She cooks. She's pretty. You scored a good one."

We have to leave a bit earlier than desired cause Jennifer has to be to her new job at 6:30. On the drive back to Goldsboro we all take turns sharing what we are thankful for. My dad confesses some heart-warming things to me saying things like "I know I wasn't always the best father" and how he tried to give me as much support and love as he could – talking about the moment back at Aunt Delores's house when I was singing and how he's very proud of me that I can take my gifts and bless others with them. This is a reoccurring theme he touches on every year – he'll talk about how he didn't have it so good growing up and how he worked real hard and how now he's able to bless other people in his life like with his wife and her daughter. He tears up a little when he starts mentioning his mother and how he misses her. The truth is I've never thought my dad to be lacking in my life. Even though my dad and mom split up at a young age my dad was always there for me – I have very fond and rich memories of him growing up. 

Back at Dad's house. Jennifer goes to work. The rest of us hang out in the living room. My dad describes his memories as a teenager and goes into detail of the last days and moments of my grandmother. He was there for her literal last breath. This will be the second time he tears up tonight. Patty and I get close and wrap our arms around him. Patty acts a bit over nurturing. But it's not often I see my dad cry.

"It's okay to cry sometimes," my dad reassures.

Later on, my dad and I go for a drive down the street so we can talk one-on-one about a sensitive situation. I have a half-sister named Charlotte whom I recently got in contact with on Facebook. It's probably best I just keep in the secret files of the blog. But in essence I feel like every time I see my dad and talk about the past his identity becomes more clear. My desire to get to know my dad, faults and all, becomes stronger as I get older.

My dad recalls a VHS tape he has of me performing my first piano recital back in 1999. There's also footage of me posing with my grandma for photos next to the piano. It was a memory my dad has of grandma being very proud of me. We put the tape into the mini TV. I sit in front of it and watch myself play through a bagatelle of Beethoven's with many mistakes of course – I wasn't as proficient yet and I was incredibly nervous. At the end of the tape my dad interviews the 15-year-old me and asks, "Do you have anything to say?" Everyone around me quiets down. I think for a second then speak into the camera, "Follow your dream." 

My first piano recital from 1999 (November 27 2014)

Watching my first piano recital from 1999 (November 27 2014) (2)

Ana and I stay later than expected – we get into a discussion with dad and Patty about food and diet.

On the road in route back to Virginia I get us through the whole drive in a mere three hours and twenty minutes – with no music on the stereo, just conversation and reflection on the last couple days.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Images by me.

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