Friday, November 28, 2008

Here comes Peter Feather Tail?

A lot of people complain about their in-laws but not me. Mine were the best. Angie and Adrian welcomed me into their lives even though I was this “Italian guy with long hair” that wanted to marry their daughter.

My father-in-law passed away several years ago but my mother-in-law “Angie” is in her mid eighties and isn’t going anywhere.


Unfortunately she has Alzheimer’s disease. She’s not completely debilitated although each day seems to bring new challenges for her and the family.

Thanksgiving was well….. different.

“How’s your mom getting here?”

“My sister is picking her up.”

(Doorbell rings)

“What time did you tell people to come over?”

“After 1:30pm.”

“It’s a quarter to one. That must be the old people.”

“Stop it. Just answer the door.”

(Tradition calls for anyone over the age of seventy to show up at least 45 minutes early for every event. Which is why when I invite them anywhere I lie about the time. But not my wife.)

(My wife’s aunt Rita her friend Wally and a cousin, I don’t know how we’re related to, were at the door.)

“Happy Thanksgiving.”

“Are we early?”

“A lit….”

“No… of course not.”

“Is Angela picking up Angie?”

“Yes we’ve got it covered.”

“She was a little confused this morning.”

“So was I. I bought ground lamb instead of ground beef for the stuffing.”

“He’s an idiot Ti Rita but he can cook.”

(30 minutes later my mother-in-law and my brother and sister-in-law show up. My mother-in-law gives me a hug and says…. )

“Happy Easter.”


“Oh it’s so good to see you guys. I’m ready for the Easter egg hunt. I just love Easter.”

(She joins her sister in the living room and my wife and I go into the kitchen. My wife is definitely upset.)

“She thinks it’s Easter?”

“So… let it be Easter. What difference does it make?”

“But it’s Thanksgiving. The decorations, the food is all about Thanksgiving.”

“Babe, we’ve had turkey for Easter before. It’s not that big a deal. Let’s just go with it.”

“Okay but… It’s just…. She’s getting worse.”

“She is, but today is about family and being thankful for what we have. Don’t dwell on the negative stuff today.”

(And then I had an idea.)

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to get the plastic Easter eggs out of the garage.”

“You’re what???”

“We’re going to have a Thanksgiving Day Easter egg hunt.”

“That’s crazy.”

“No it isn’t. Call the kids. If they haven’t left yet tell them we’re celebrating Easter today. Tell them to put the kids in their Easter outfits. Explain to them what’s going on. I’m going to run to Vons to get some candy to put in the eggs.”

“Calabrese this is nuts. You can’t do this.”

“I can and I will. I’m going to tell Rita and Wally. You call Sheila and Bobbi. If anyone else shows up let them know as soon as they get here that we’re celebrating Easter today for your mom.”


“No buts. The Easter Turkey is making his visit today.”

(My wife called the kids and a few other people we had invited over and explained the situation to them. As each group arrived they were greeted with “Happy Easter!”)

(My sons cornered me in the kitchen.)

“Dad, Alex is a little confused. He knows its Thanksgiving.”

“I’ll talk to him. I’ll tell him about the Easter Turkey.”

“Dad I think what you’re doing is pretty cool but I’m not sure it’s the right thing.”

“Look guys. I don’t know if it’s the right thing either. But it feels right. You’re grandmother deserves to have a good day. So today is Easter. We’re having an Easter egg hunt and I’m going to make sure she has fun.”

“Just…. Don’t confuse Alex too much.”

“Trust me.”

“Come on Dad.”

(We spent the day eating and talking and doing what any family would do on Thanksgiving Day. We even had a Thanksgiving Day Easter egg hunt. At the end of the day people left stuffed with turkey, pumpkin pie and whatever candy I had put inside the eggs that my wife and I hid. It seemed like a pretty normal Thanksgiving.)

“Angela wants to know if you can take mom home. They have to go to David’s house now.”

“No problem. Today was kind of fun wasn’t it?”

“You never cease to amaze me Calabrese. An Easter egg hunt on Thanksgiving…”

“Are you crying?”

“It’s just…”

“Honey it’s no problem. We just started a new tradition that’s all. The Thanksgiving Easter egg hunt. The grandkids loved it. Everybody had a good time. Your mom was happy celebrating Easter. Hell… she won’t even remember this tomorrow. Plus I got to have M & M’s for Thanksgiving so I’m happy. Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff babe. Just go with it.”

(About an hour later I took my mother-in-law home. She didn’t say anything in the car, she just looked a little confused. I’m not sure she knows the way home anymore even though she lives less than a mile away. When we got to her house I walked her up to the front door.)

“Thanks Tony. You’re a good son-in-law.”

“You're welcome mom. Did you have a fun day today?”

“Yes I did. I really did. You know… I know its Thanksgiving today. There’s no football in May. The Cowboys and Seahawks don’t play in May. Did I really think it was Easter?”

“Yes… Yes you did.”

“I’m losing it.”

“Not all of it.”

“The Easter egg hunt was a bit much.”

“It was fun though.”

“Yes it was. What are you going to do for Christmas?”

“I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

“You may have to dress up as a pilgrim or a turkey and hand out presents.”

“I’ve been a turkey before.”

“That’s what my daughter tells me…. I think.”

“Happy Thanksgiving Easter mom.”

“You too Tony.”

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal brain disease. As many as 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

Not only does Alzheimer’s take a persons memory but it takes their dignity as well. It puts strains on the family you can’t even imagine. To find out more about Alzheimer’s visit the Alzheimer’s Association at