The most important person at our Thanksgiving feast this year wasn't even at the table. Before the first morsel of turkey was gobbled, my cousin Megan proposed that we raise our glasses to my mom, who passed away in February, one month shy of her 89th birthday.
Art Boy and I had spent the day in the car, driving from Santa Cruz all the way down to Hermosa Beach. We much prefer to stay firmly rooted to hearth and home—our home—for the holidays, if at all possible. But this was going to be the first big holiday without Mumsie, and I thought it was important to be there to share it with my brothers, Mike and Steve, who lived with Mom in the house we all grew up in at the end of her life. It was a bittersweet time for us; we felt my mom's fun-loving spirit everywhere in the house she lived in for 56 years, but we were so sorry we hadn't organized one last, big family feast like this a couple of years earlier, before my mom's last series of strokes, when she could have still been with us in person, alert and mobile, to enjoy it.