Christmas Parade 2012… Thankful… Tommy, Are You Smiling?
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
The colors there are exciting, it feels cozy, homey to me. All the colors are ‘warm’… yellow, red, green, orange… the colors of fall time, my favorite time of the year. The colors of a fireplace, that keeps one so warm, so cozy. The colors that say, “It’s so cold outside, come on inside, I’ll keep you warm.”
Skip pumped gas, I made cups of hot coffee for us. We were now, officially on our way to the Christmas Parade! We had one more stop to make… that was at Dunkin’ Donut in Raleigh.
The owner saw us, held the door opened for us to come inside. He and Skip are long-time friends.. they love to talk about the Vietnam War. Both of them are Veterans.
Myself, I walked inside… closed my eyes for a moment, and smelled the wonderful aroma of Dunkin Donut coffee, freshly made doughnuts. I always love doing this at Dunkin Donuts.
It is a wonderful experience for me… the aroma of that good coffee, the warmth inside when it’s very cold outside. Cosy, special… I don’t mind waiting at all for Skip and his friend to finish their conversation. I stand there … and enjoy the moment. Special moments never last long.
We left, drove to our favorite spot to sit and enjoy the Christmas Parade. We set up our chairs, blankets… went back to sit in our vehicle. We talked, people-watched as others came early to do the same thing as we did. We were waiting… we’d gotten the doughnuts and coffee… this is our tradition every year.
Finally… it was time to go sit in our chairs. Oh my… it was so cold, windy outside. I was glad to have blankets… one to put over my fold-up chair to block the wind… one to place over my lap. Our neighbors who sat closest to us were very nice. All around, in front of us were little precious children. Some were standing near me, some sat on the curb in front of me, and to the right of Skip.
It was wonderful watching the floats go by, the different dogs, horses. People dressed in all kinds of garb… lots of………. happy colors! Bands marched by to the beat of their own drums :))) girls danced, twirled their batons. Lots of old cars, lots of Harley Davidson motorcycles drove by… bicycles, segways, wagons. People jumping rope, doing all kinds of ‘impossible’ things/
At the last, Santa Claus came riding by with his reindeer, he was waving to everyone. What a wonderful parade!
All through the parade, I watched little children’s faces. I saw how happy their little faces were, I heard it in their voices. One little boy in particular touched my heart. He always looked quietly at me, his eyes would make a little smile. He was the age of Taban, my precious grandson … I have to look for Taban in other children… I never see him.
I saw a little girl on one of the pageant floats… she had strawberry-blonde hair just as my granddaughter, McKenzie. I looked at her sweet face ‘trying to see my granddaughter’ in her…
I watched a couple at the beginning of the parade… the woman reminded me of Tommy’s wife… the man looked like Tommy. I only saw his hair, face, his body-build…. he had on sunglasses so, I couldn’t see his eyes. Yes, I was looking for Tommy… he’s gone now but, you all know that… you have been here for me all this time. I even… looked for his wife…..
Skip and I watched in amazement the huge Nutcracker soldier being pulled down Hillsborough Street. They had to continually lower him to pull him beneath all the Oak trees! I took close-up photos of him towering above me…
One of our favorite bands… Helping Hands Mission… for some reason was the last to march/dance down the street. Santa Claus came through just before them! I didn’t understand that because… I didn’t really care. There they were! They are my favorite to watch because….
Those girls can dance! I love the wild, happy music and the way the girls, the guys in the band ‘get down’! They ‘let go’… making people cheer, laugh, happy watching them. I felt happy, I felt my spirit soar with the excitement their presence created… this was such fun!
Today… was the first Christmas Parade I’ve enjoyed since Tommy’s been gone. This is the 3rd Christmas Parade…… Tommy, I missed you with my heart… I thought of you, I didn’t forget you at all. I looked for you, Taban, McKenzie, even your wife at this Christmas Parade. I didn’t see you all, but… I did see lots of reminders. I was happy to have that. I have so much to be thankful for.
On the way home, I looked at Skip and said, “Skip, I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving… you could have been taken from me just a few weeks ago, I would have been left alone. I’m so thankful for you, for our Pups, a warm, nice place to call home, good food… for our friends … for the miracles, and amazing things that have happened to us. We have been through so much… for now, all feels good, there’s peace of mind. I can make it through these holidays… I’m so thankful.” Oh God, I am so very thankful…..
In my mind I have one person in mind… I know there are angels who walk among us… she touched our life in a most special way. She has ever since Tommy died… her soft, quiet voice has always ‘been there’ speaking to me. I heard her words, she stood out to me, because she was so … quiet, caring. She sort of reminds me of my Aunt Frankie when I was a little girl… quiet, soft, always there. So comforting…
She shared her new granddaughter with me when she was born, in photos… because she thought of me, the grief I go through not knowing mine. She didn’t have to do that… that touched my heart in such a special way. She has thought of me in a most meaningful way… thank you from my heart.
Thank you for touching our life in such a wonderful way… you know who you are. I’m more thankful for so much… more than my words can possibly say.
The holidays… are coming. I really feel inside… I am going to make it through them. I haven’t felt this way since … Tommy had to go away … it doesn’t mean I don’t hurt … the pain is there beneath the surface.
What I think it does mean is………. alot of special things that are happening has created a very thick, soft, strong blanket of good, happy feelings to throw over that pain… and it is heavy enough to hold that pain down where it won’t want to come up to the surface to strike at me, to destroy any happy feelings I might have. I think the weight of it might carry me through all the holidays this year… I need that peace of mind, I want it so much. I’m so determined in a good way… I believe everything will… be all right.
So much more happy feelings, so much more to be thankful for, so much more… peace of mind is ‘heavy’ enough to hold that pain down.
What a wonderful Christmas Parade, I have so much to be thankful for… and I’m not afraid for … Thanksgiving to come this week. I know everything is going to be all right.
So far, so good… I feel I will make it through now… Tommy, are you smiling? I am smiling… with tears in my eyes. I ‘feel’ my son’s smile in my heart… I see his smiling eyes in my mind… it feels like the sunshine came out inside my heart. Tommy, are you smiling?