The autumn was leaving warm shades in the landscape while the Johnson family found themselves in the middle of a bittersweet Thanksgiving. This holiday had been a cornerstone of their family traditions for years, but this year was different. Olivia, their beloved grandma, was facing end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Olivia, once a vibrant heartbeat in every family gathering, was now in the labyrinth of her own mind. Her memories flashed like distant stars, and her once lively presence faded gradually, leaving behind a deep void inside everyone’s soul.

The change…

As Thanksgiving approached, the Johnsons realized their cherished traditions would be different. The usual haste of the kitchen, the laughter echoing through the halls, and Olivia’s sage advice on how to cook the perfect turkey felt like distant echoes of the past.

Between their grief and the upcoming holiday, the family found ease in the determined support of their hospice care team. The hospice workers, like guardian angels, provided not only medical assistance but also enduring compassion and empathy.

Their hospice nurse, Charlotte, had become a comforting presence in their lives. Her gentle demeanor and understanding words were a calming relief to their aching hearts. She listened as they shared stories of Olivia’s spirit in the past, her contagious laughter, and the love she had knitted into their lives.

The need for new traditions…

Sadly, Olivia passed away in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and Charlotte suggested creating new traditions that honored Olivia’s legacy. Instead of focusing solely on their sorrow, the family remembered and celebrated their shared moments. They made a memory board with pictures of past holidays that served as a visual testament to the joyful times they had treasured.

On Thanksgiving Day, the Johnsons gathered around the table as the aroma of freshly baked turkey with Olivia’s cherished secret recipe filled the air. The table had a simple but moving centerpiece: a lit candle symbolizing Gramma’s enduring spirit. There was also an empty chair, a reminder of her absence, and a seat reserved for her everlasting presence in their hearts.

Before indulging in their feast, they joined hands and shared heartfelt memories of Olivia, and each story was filled with love and gratitude. Tears mixed with laughter as they recalled her odd sayings and precious moments.

Always in our hearts…

As the evening drew close, the Johnsons gathered in a circle to express their gratitude. With wet eyes, they reserved a word of thanks to the hospice team for their unmeasurable support during this challenging time. They sincerely appreciated Charlotte, whose empathy and guidance had represented much hope in their darkest hours.

Though Thanksgiving was shaded with sorrow, it became a tribute to the resilience of the family spirit. Through the support of hospice care and the enduring love they shared for Olivia, the Johnsons discovered that even in grief, there could be moments of solace and gratitude.

As the day ended, they whispered their thanks to Olivia, her love forever, and all their cherished Thanksgiving memories.

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