• Maria Thacker Goethe, MPH

Remembering Dad in December

So we made it!  The first holidays without a loved one are always the hardest they say.  I can say that I completely agree with that sentiment.  Christmas last year was a blur as we were caring for dad while I myself was recovering from major surgery.  It was a blessing to have been able to share that last Christmas with him and then of course his 65th birthday on Dec. 30th.


This year was just about learning to survive the holidays and create new memories and traditions.  We still had our usual Christmas dinner of shrimp curry and Spanish pork – yes different, but a lot more fun than turkey.  Mom cooked the pork as usual and Gabbi took over for dad by making an excellent shrimp curry.  At the end of the meal we took a few minutes to remember my dad.

Memory candles for dad.

The wonderful hospice that we worked with, Journey Hospice, made a point to get in touch with my mom before the holidays to provide her with some ways to remember my dad and help the family cope. At the end of the meal we all read a small thought on remembrance and lit a candle for dad.  It was sad but heartwarming and encouraging too.  Remembering and honoring dad at Christmas was part of our healing experience.


He loved the holidays and though there was a different feel to opening the gifts it was still joyful.  It’s the little things that change and the new roles that had to be assumed.  For example, Dad always made sure we recycled everything we could while unwrapping, he remembered to call family in Missouri, and he always listened to Bing Crosby and Elvis singing those classic holiday songs – Blue Christmas will always make me think of dad.  We still did all these things of course, but they came with more hesitation as we thought to ourselves, “Dad normally does this.”

Visiting dad’s grave on his birthday Dec. 30 – he would have been 66 years old. It was a gorgeous day.

But in the end, it was a good Christmas and little Noah, my nephew, was definitely a joy to behold as he experienced opening presents and playing with toys.  He reminds us of dad now that he is running around.  You can completely see how much he is built like him – sturdy 🙂  This little man certainly helped us all remember that my dad lives in him and the rest of us.


The holidays are gone now and we are grateful to have each other and such an amazing community who continues to support us and remember dad.

© 2018 IN MEMORY OF STEPHEN B. THACKER

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