Cancer Free Thanksgiving

This was Ethel's first Thanksgiving since the doctors had said the cancer in her breast was completely gone. Her son, in the navy, and his family were stationed in Japan. She and her husband Hank would be alone for the holidays this year. Being a mother and grandmother, she was feeling a little blue. She and Hank had held up well the past eight months it had taken to eradicate the tumor. They would miss the kids for this year's holiday season because of the deployment. She was moping around and Hank understood, but he wanted to do something about her loneliness.

One week before Thanksgiving, Hank drove the 40 miles to the naval base near their home. Hank was a retired chief and still had friends stationed there. He found four young seamen who couldn't get home for Thanksgiving and invited them over to share a home cooked Thanksgiving feast. Each one happily accepted the invitation. They were told it was to be a surprise and to bring some small gift, flowers, wine, just something for Ethel.

"But it's just us we don't need a big turkey, look here's a nice breast" said stated.

"Bullshit, we're getting the whole bird or it's Denny's" commanded the Chief, "Look, we both need to celebrate, and I want a huge bird. I'm paying I'm picking."

She laughed, he's up to something, she thought. Hank always acted navy when he was up to something. She shrugged, in the basket went the 28 pound turkey.

"Now the sides." Hank said in that navy voice Ethel loved. And they headed for the produce department. Then to the bakery, where Hank pick out four pies of different flavors. He's lost his damn mind, she thought what would they do with all this food.

The day before Thanksgiving was busy around their house. Ethel was prepping every thing to cook, Hank was out cutting wood for the fireplace. The holiday spirit was in every corner of the house. Hank taking a break, smiled when Ethel brought him out a large steaming cup of coffee, just black like in the navy. It was late in the afternoon, everything was ready for the festivities tomorrow.

"I'm taking you out to dinner, go get ready." Hank said in his navy voice.

"Yes, sir" said Ethel saluting.

"I am not nor have I ever been an officer, belay that sailor." in his navy voice.

"I am not nor ever have I been a sailor." retorted Ethel.

Hank slapped Ethel on the rear and said to go get ready, laughing. She loved Hank's laugh and she hadn't heard it in almost a year.

As was their custom, Ethel was in the kitchen before dawn cooking and dancing to the oldies station she loved. Hank was in the dining room setting up the table for six. Ethel came out of the kitchen to see how things were going. When she saw the six place settings, she asked about it. Tradition replied Hank, she smiled and handed him his morning coffee. They would eat at two as they always have. Hank's right, she thought, this feels right and went back to finish the dressing and gravy.

At 1:45 the door bell rang, Hank hollered he had it from the front room where he had been building a fire in the fireplace. There stood the four young sailors timidly, with gifts in their arms.

They entered quietly, removing their hats and peacoats. Hank motioned them to follow him into the dining room. Hank left them there and went to bring in the final guest of honor, the turkey.

Ethel followed Hank into the dining room and was greeted by four young, bright faces. Two white, two black. They were in dress blues and holding wrapped gifts. Each thank her for having them and offered the gifts. Then one held the hostess seat at the foot of the table, while the other three and Hank stood beside their seats. Hank said the prayer, the men where seated and began to pass the holiday repast around the table, Ethel cried and thanked them all for this wonderful gift smiling at Hank, who seemed very proud of himself.

Then, the sound of the front door was heard and the voice of their son shouted, is anyone home? They made room at the table for four more, their son, his wife, and their two children. Hank stood and made this toast.

"To a thanksgiving that truly is a Happy Thanksgiving."

Jim "Popi" Meadows
Andice, Texas

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