Making room at your Thanksgiving table

Kenneth McKenzie

It seems like just a week ago that we put away our fancy linens, fine china and turkey platter, but once again, it’s that time of year.
It was the 1970s, and my father was a physical therapist at Miners Hospital in Nevada City. The population of my “country” hometown was just about 25,000. I can still see my father rolling his favorite female patients out of their convalescent homes and into our home for Thanksgiving. These patients that he befriended didn’t have families of their own any longer, and my dad never asked my mother if he could bring “strays” to Thanksgiving, nor did he ask permission from the convalescent homes, nor about proper means to transport the patients. Needless to say, there were no HIPPA laws to abide by back then.
My father stood 6′ 7″, and would scoop up each lady, put them in their chair, wheel them right out the front doors and into our family’s truck. Each lady got a seat in the oversized truck, and I got to sit in one of the wheelchairs in the bed of the truck— with the brake set, of course.
The Thanksgiving table was full and overcrowded with no elbow room, but I remember a lot stories from past generations, and there was plenty of laughter.
Today, just my two brothers and sister remain from that overcrowded Thanksgiving table. One by one, each person that has died has left wonderful memories behind.
If you are able to reach out and invite (what my father calls a “stray” ) to join your family’s table, then please do so. One day, each and every one of you could be in the last days of your life; wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone reached out to you? This year, my “stray” is Joyce. She has outlived her husband(s) and children, and she will be sitting at my family’s table with a glass of Crown Royal and 7-Up (even though the doctors say she shouldn’t drink.)

Kenneth McKenzie is the owner of McKenzie Mortuary in Long Beach.