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Friday, December 2, 2022

Life 101: Thanksgiving will never be the same

You could smell the turkey and ham from the yard as you approached Sharky and Ruby’s house each Thanksgiving morning. Sharky and Ruby were the parents of my wife Jilda.

As the time neared noon, the place got busier than Grand Central Station in New York City with all the kids and grandkids ferrying bowls of potato salad, green beans, buttered rolls, squash casserole, field peas and more. Ruby directed household traffic and the oven controls like a conductor at the symphony. Every surface in the kitchen would be brimming with delicious food. Jilda always camped out by the desert table with her eyes on the strawberry cake and sweet potato pie. I always scarfed up a piece of turkey or ham without anyone noticing. I wanted to dive face first onto that table of food and eat it all with my bare hands.

This was a crucial time at Ruby and Sharky’s house because there was a great deal of jockeying for position at the head of the line. “Michael, there’s someone at the door, could you open it please? “ I could always get Michael’s (Jilda’s nephew) place in line and move up a slot.

Now I’m all for saying the blessing when there’s food on the table but on Thanksgiving the shorter, the better “ Good food, good meat, thank you Lord, let’s eat” was perfect for me.

On Thanksgiving, Sharky would start thanking the Lord for everyone and everything starting with the President of the United States (unless of course there was a Republican in the White House) and would move right on down the line until he thanked the Lord for the makers of the forks and plates.

He was a thankful man, but he mostly did this to torture the starving kids and grandkids around the table. Once I caught him looking around during a particularly long blessing. All heads were bowed and eyes closed but I kept my eye on him. He peeked around to see who was squirming and as our eyes met, he grinned and then blessed the makers of the beautiful tablecloth and teakettle. I loved Sharky and I loved those Thanksgivings. Sharky died in 1991 and things changed. The food was still good and the tea just as sweet but there was an empty spot in everyone’s heart at the dinner table. The food was never blessed properly after Sharky, no one could come close to his thankfulness.

If you don’t count the years I was in the military, the Thanksgiving after Ruby passed away in 2005 was the first time since 1968 that Thanksgiving was not spent at Jilda’s parents house.

We drove by Sharky and Ruby’s old home place recently and all I could think about were those long-ago Thanksgiving feasts. A wave of sadness swept over me. Nothing could ever replace the experience of Thanksgiving at Sharky and Ruby’s house.

This Thanksgiving enjoy every sound, every smell, every taste, every laugh and every hug because life moves fast, and things change in the blink of an eye. I am always thankful for all those Thanksgivings at Ruby and Sharky’s, those were my first lessons in truly being thankful.

Rick Watson
Rick Watson
Rick Watson was a beloved member of the Walker County community, especially in east Walker County. His “Life 101” column was almost always written from the peacefulness of his 12-acre farm in the Empire community. His work focused on observing the joys of rural life.

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