"There's too much love at the end of that dark country road. How could I not make it there for Thanksgiving?"
That's what I told myself last week as I was driving 45 miles down 104 West from Irondequoit to the home of my cousin's George and Sue Borrelli in Waterport, New York. It didn't matter that a mini-snow blizzard had begun, that my Mom's new "personality" (courtesy of her dimentia) was in full-swing, or that it was already dark by the time we made it half way down that long country stretch.
All that mattered, is that we were on our way to spend time with loving family members who gracefully look past my Mom's new "issues" and who, instead, employ a kind of unconditional love that you only see and hear about in the movies.
But this was no movie. This was reality.
Only 10 days before, my cousins' George and Sue, George's sister, Mary, and my new cousin "Flaverelli" - recently married to George's brother Guy, had already attended yet another special family occasion: the signing for my two new books and CD. Here, it was they who made the 45 mile trek from Waterport to Irondequoit - to show their support of their cousin Herbie J.
In return, how could I not then accept George and Sue's beautiful invitation to spend Thanksgiving at their country palace - especially too, because my Mom would have the chance to spend some time with my Aunt Sue (my father's sister).
Oh, sure - for years, I had been telling everyone that my cousins purchased an old church and transformed it into a home. "The spirituality of it all," I thought. "What better place to spend Thanksiving but in a country home that was once an old church."
Come to find out, it's an old former schoolhouse, and not a church. But the lesson experienced was just as heartwarming, kindred and all-embracing as if it was indeed a holy place of worship.
For is not a church a structure built on love? My cousins George and Sue transformed it so - as both are creative and talented in the ways of style and substance (George, in particular, is a brilliant artisan of woodmaking and metals).
Is not a church a place where all feel welcome, and in which no one is judged? Is not a church created of a congregation where all may find solace and acceptance? Does not a church feed those who have hunger in their bellies and ample room in their hearts?
As such, me and my Mom were were fed with all the deliciousness of turkey, stuffing and more that are the traditions of the Thanksgiving holiday. But we were also fed with amazing grace - the kind of food that replenishes not only the body, but the mind and the soul.
And even though my Mom may have forgotten most of the evening a mere 30 minutes after she returned home to Irondequoit, her heart - and the huge part of her being that will one day be brought to Heaven - will ever remember it.
As will God.