Thanksgiving is such a fabulous holiday. It reminds us of the celebration first performed by the pilgrims who landed near Plymouth Rock seeking a new home where they could worship and celebrate their freedom.
The opportunity to gather with family and friends is special for each of us in our own way. Fortunate football enthusiasts attend NFL football games or college football fans attend their alma mater, glued to the television. It’s so easy to be focused on the menu for Thanksgiving; turkey, cranberry sauce, cornbread or bread dressing, turkey gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin, and mince-meat pie.
But it’s important to take time to remember our loved ones, bond with those who are important to us and enjoy the special moments we have with our family and friends. I want to share my favorite Thanksgiving story. It’s a story about love, family and connectedness that appears in my first book, Where the Water Meets the Sand. It’s one of my first memories of my late husband, Larry Hull. I hope you enjoy this story and your Thanksgiving.
After Larry deployed to Vietnam, I was filled with sadness and fear he wouldn’t come home like my father didn’t come home when I was nine years old when Daddy died of a heart – attack. After several weeks of therapy, my psychiatrist in Lubbock, Texas recommended I go to the famous Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. My diagnosis was Clinical Depression. I arrived at Menninger in October and was especially sad during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Mrs. Locke, my favorite psychiatric aide was making rounds on Thanksgiving and stopped by my room, pulled up a chair next to my twin bed and asked me if I felt like talking. Through my tears and sniffles, I told her one of my favorite stories about my husband Lt. James L. Hull.
My Favorite Thanksgiving Memory
My favorite Thanksgiving memory was when Larry Hull, a young man I met at Texas Tech (and my future husband) invited me to join him and his family for Thanksgiving in Roswell, New Mexico on the Air Force Base where his family lived.
I pulled my car up to the gate and the guard asked if I had a pass. I did not. I explained I was visiting the Chief Master Sergeant’s family. The guard called the Hull’s home to tell them I had arrived. It seemed James Larry Hull arrived immediately at the gate and vouched for me.
“Follow me, he said, we’ll be at my house in a few minutes.”
“When we pulled up in front of the house,” I continued, “Larry’s mother was standing on the front porch waiting for us. Larry jumped out of his car, opened my door and led me to the porch.”
“Here she is,” he grinned.
“Mrs. Hull put her arms around me in a warm tight hug. She said that Larry had told her all about me and what I liked to eat. She had made some of my favorites for dinner.”
“Oh, my,” Mrs. Locke clapped her hands together. “I can see why he’s ‘Your Larry,’ as you refer to him. And his mother, cooking all your favorite foods, and him remembering them all and telling her! That is some special young man. No wonder you miss him, and his mother, too!”
“I was touched that Larry had kept track of what I liked to eat. His mother had prepared celery stuffed with cream cheese and chives, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and hot, strong coffee. After we ate, Larry and his mom washed dishes while I sat at the kitchen table, listening to them tell stories about living on the base in Japan and about Mrs. Hull’s relatives in Alabama. She told me that when I met her relatives, it would be like they had always known me because I was with Larry and they all just loved him. Who didn’t love Larry, I wondered to myself?”
Mrs. Locke smiled.
“I admired the relationship between Larry and his mother,” I went on. “There was a sweetness and respect between the two of them, a kind of harmony
that made being around them comfortable and easy. It was very different from my family. After a holiday meal, the men in my family left the table to play
dominoes, tell stories, or have a smoke while the women cleaned up. I couldn’t remember feeling so much at home in a long time. I’d been falling in love with Larry over the past couple of months. That visit to his family’s left me utterly smitten.”
After all these years, on Thanksgiving, I still remember that amazing first time with Larry and his family. Even though we lose someone we love dearly, we carry them in our hearts, at least that’s my experience in the case of 1st Lt. James L. Hull. I will never forget him. His love for me and our daughter, Laura, as well as his duty to his country, is something I will never forget.