THANKSGIVINGS PAST - by Judy Waldo Bracken

We lived in Hobbs, New Mexico. It was Thanksgiving Day, cool and crisp outside. The two males in my life at the time — a blond 29-month-old toddler, and a tall, handsome 31-year-old man — filled my home with love. I was hugely pregnant and ready to pop, due in 9 days.

Cameron, my first son, had been born 10 days early, so it was entirely possible that I’d have a Thanksgiving baby. And I'd been having some of those familiar “birthing” twinges all day long. Questions filled my mind. If I ate a big meal would it interfere with the delivery? Would I have to have an enema or something unpleasant like that? My mother was supposed to visit in three days to stay with Cameron. What would we do with him if the birth happened sooner? 

We decided to go on as if all was normal, cooking a delicious turkey dinner and taking a walk afterwards. We put Cameron to bed and relaxed for a bit before settling in ourselves. And guess what? As soon as I laid down, I began having strong contractions at regular intervals. We waited about 45 minutes, and as the intensity increased, we decided to go to the hospital. After a few quick calls, arrangements were made with a neighbor to take Cameron and we rushed off.

When we arrived around 11:30 p.m., I was taken right away into the delivery room. Our regular doctor showed up, but he was not feeling well. Apparently, he'd eaten something earlier that day that didn’t agree with him. He had to keep leaving the room; thank goodness we had a capable nurse assisting. In no time at all, right after 1 a.m. my second child was born. A healthy 6 1/2 pound baby boy, delivered mostly by the nurse. He wasn’t born on Thanksgiving, but Ryland’s birthday now falls on or around that holiday every year. 

Ryland grew up, becoming a top student, an athlete, and an Eagle Scout. He had a great sense of humor and enjoyed friends and computers. Seven years ago, while a senior in college, he had his first psychotic break and has struggled with serious mental illness ever since.

This year, for Thanksgiving, Ryland was in a locked care facility. His dad passed away three years ago from an aggressive cancer. His younger brother and I enjoyed Thanksgiving lunch at the facility with him and some other families. For his birthday, we took him on a picnic — his first outing in months. Thanksgiving, this year, was much different from Thanksgiving 29 years ago.

I’m so thankful that Ryland is getting the care he needs—thankful that he is still here and we can be together.

Judy, Ryland, and Stewart Thanksgiving Day 2017

Judy, Ryland, and Stewart
Thanksgiving Day 2017