The Thanksgiving Gift That Keeps on Giving

This time of year takes me back to the trip north to Indiana. I'm pretty sure it always will.

On Thursday, October 17th, 2002, I received a telephone call about a job in Indianapolis, Indiana, working as a contractor for Eli Lilly. Eleven days later, I moved and started my new job. I left my son with his nonworking father, who had ever so graciously agreed to temporarily move into my house and “baby-sit” his son so he could finish the Fall semester at school. I felt better leaving him there until I had organized our new life into some semblance of a routine. It took almost two months to just recompose myself, so this turned out to be a smart plan.

Nothing seemed the same to me: the streets, the stores, the businesses, the weather (I needed a coat AND GLOVES in October!), the nicely kempt midwestern people with absolutely no accent (how do they do that?). I participate in this craziness now, but when people in these parts give directions, they actually use east and west and north and south, rather than right and left, as in “Go south on Meridian, then west on Fall Creek”. Imagine! It really requires a lot of unnecessary thought as far as this Southerner is concerned.

But it turned out that driving confusion would be the least of my worries. The movers arrived in Indiana at 1:30AM. Yes, A.M.  Then, I ended up moving twice because my first apartment was a nightmare. Sign-on monies and paychecks wouldn't come until the end of December. When you're from out of town, new bank accounts require a 10-day deposit hold, and little things like rent checks require in-state checking accounts. Indiana has something called "hard water", and it's just nastiness. Did I mention cold? The 2002-2003 Winter season resulted in the highest snowfall record for the city this century. I could go on and on.

I was sleeping almost an hour each night and, by that weekend, I had developed a newfound attachment to crying. I’m typically not one to express too much emotion or admit defeat, but I told a bestest friend, Sheila, who was back in Memphis about my problem. I told her that I had no idea if it was due to the haze of overwhelming change, the feeling of loss from my son not being with me, or just plain worry about me, about him, about whether or not this decision would go down in the books as right or wrong for us.

She asked me what we were doing for Thanksgiving. There really was no logical way to spend the holiday with my son. Driving to Mississippi and back twice to bring my son to Indianapolis was too much for the four-day break. I couldn’t stay with my ex-husband in my house, and he certainly had no plans of meeting me halfway. She asked about flying my son from Memphis to Indy. She even offered to take him and pick him up at the airport. He had flown before, so his “unaccompanied minor” status wasn’t an unfamiliar concern. I was touched by her generosity, but I couldn’t do it. I was so close to broke by this time and still had to pay for my second move.

The next day, I received an e-mail from American Airlines notifying me that I had been given a gift certificate from Sheila and three other friends she had recruited to donate to my cause. My son and I spent Thanksgiving together, and he was actually excited about the new digs. By spending those four days together, it eased his mind and mine, and helped us both begin to think of this change as a fun adventure. And I finally stopped crying.

What's funny is that I recently had to refresh Sheila's memory about this kindness, while I think about it often and with gratitude just as intense today as it was then. For me, she was God showing up when I least expected Him and so much prettier, too!!