The Big Thanksgiving
Delores, her mother, and I arrived at the airport and the suspense was killing me. My two sisters were visiting from the Left Coast for Thanksgiving Week, and their flight was scheduled to land any time. Delores’s brother would also be with us later in the day, visiting from Northern Virginia. All I could think of was how excited I was to see my two sisters coming up the hallway from the gate, and how different life was without them.
I saw someone pushing someone in a wheelchair and I knew immediately.
Jessica! Rachel! You both are here, I cried, running up to both, wanting squeeze hugs from both sisters.
We’ve missed you so much. You don’t call as often, Rachel said in a dejected voice.
He’s been busy with me, Delores said suddenly. She had a stern look on her face, seemingly none too happy that I was hugging another woman. I brushed it aside as they were my sisters after all.
Do you two have any bags, Delores’s mother asked.
Yes, we each brought a gym bag of clothes, the two backpacks we are carrying, and a big suitcase. The gym bags and suitcase were checked in, Jessica answered as I took the reins of her wheelchair to give Rachel a break from pushing.
I handed both of my sisters a bus schedule of the #85 and Rachel groaned,
That’s it? Even my 72 runs daily.
Portsmouth is broke, Delores responded as we made our way to baggage claim. We had only a few minutes until the baggage claim carousel started running and bags began popping into view. Rachel grabbed both bags and Delores asked,
Now, how do we get your wheelchair into the van?
Michael and Rachel can fold it up after loading me, Jessica said,
They’ve done this a million times before.
Are you two hungry, Delores’s mother asked,
What is easiest for you, Jessica?
My treat for everyone if you all would like to go someplace nicer than fast food. Airline food is just as nasty as everyone claims. My brother and sister will take care of my needs, Jessica replied,
I’m also willing to chip in for Thanksgiving food.
There’s a place by the apartment where we could do both at once, Delores’s mother answered as Rachel and I worked together to get Jessica and her wheelchair loaded into the van.
OK, Jessica said,
So, Michael, how is life?
I started going into how my life has been since I last spoke to either one of them. They started telling me about their lives. Rachel was progressing nicely through High School, and Jessica was recently promoted at WorldSoft: she now worked in one of the teams that created the main operating system that most of the world uses. I told them about how we all shared this apartment in Portsmouth, and that I was looking forward to Delores and I moving out on our own in the future.
We soon pulled into a shopping center and Jessica was surprised.
Nova’s Chicken, She stammered, as if she expected something more than a fast-food chicken joint.
The apartment is right around the corner, and we needed groceries as well, Delores explained.
Well, I did offer to treat, and I keep my promises, Jessica said,
Michael. Rachel. You both know what to do.
We haven’t eaten since changing planes in Phoenix, Rachel said as we got Jessica loaded.
We’ll eat first. Shouldn’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, Jessica said.
Lunch at Nova’s was quick, and I could sense that Jessica was not happy about something.
Both of you help me in the restroom, Jessica then said, looking at Rachel and me. Jessica had one of those
just do as I ask looks and I didn’t grumble. Something was on my big sister’s mind. Rachel closed the bathroom door and we both started helping Jessica transfer to the toilet where she said,
Michael, I will reserve judgement, but something seems off about Delores. Rachel sensed it when you were on the phone with her the other week.
You sounded very tense over the phone when we were chatting last, like you were being forced to quickly wrap up your conversation, Rachel said.
That, I asked, trying to recall the memory.
Yes, you rushed me off the phone, Rachel said as Jessica finished her business on the toilet.
My eyes shifted (which both of my sisters immediately noticed) as I said with a shaky voice,
We had something to do.
We’ll discuss this later. We want you to know that we aren’t mad at you; just concerned. Now please, we should get back to the table before they send a search party, Jessica said as Rachel wiped her sister’s crotch and flushed the toilet. We helped her back into her wheelchair, all three of us washed our hands, and rejoined Delores and her mother right as our order number was called.
Just in time, Jessica said as she wheeled to the front counter. Turning down the store’s offer to carry the tray, Jessica said,
My brother and sister can do it.
The three of us joined the table and had a lunch that Jessica seemed to be not as thrilled about but didn’t want to argue about either. We finished our lunch and Jessica suggested,
How about you two push me to the grocery store, and we get anything we need. Don’t see the need to be loaded into the van for a trip across the parking lot. The three of us walked over to the grocery store while Delores and her mother climbed into the van and drove over to find a parking spot.
We entered the supermarket and Rachel grabbed a second cart as Jessica said,
I will pay for our things. Rachel, you push the cart, and Michael, you push me. Jessica started grabbing things and put them into the cart, and giggled,
The best part will be the leftovers to make sandwiches.
We arrived at the apartment after grocery shopping and Jessica had a determined look on her face. She saw the stairs which had no landing (why she wanted a hotel in the first place).
Let’s get me up these stairs, Jessica said, and Rachel and I worked together. Delores’s mother carried the wheelchair up the stairs.
I guess you will each have a sofa, I said, unsure of myself.
We brought blankets and pillows in the big suitcase. We will be fine, Rachel said, with a simmer of happiness in her voice.
We will unpack those when it’s time for bed.
Your brother comes tomorrow. We imagine you’ll want to spend family time with him, just as much as we are going to want family time with our brother, Jessica said as Rachel started setting things down.
Um, sure, Delores replied, surprised at the question from my sister, as Rachel tried to offer to help put our set of groceries away.
No, you are a guest, Delores said, insisting on taking the bag from Rachel, a little more forcefully than what seemed necessary. Rachel gave a
what was that for look which Delores didn’t notice.
Evening arrived and, as usual, Jessica asked for bathroom help.
Let’s get changed into PJs while we are here, She suggested. Rachel brought two pairs and Jessica asked me,
Where are your PJs?
I… uh… well, I’m sleeping in the bedroom with Delores, I said as Rachel closed the bathroom door.
You don’t need to get shifty eyed with us. We’re your sisters, Rachel said,
This isn’t like you to not want to talk to us. My two sisters changed into their PJs and the three of us decided to use the toilet. We squeezed Jessica back through the door into a bathroom that wasn’t designed for wheelchair usage.
Thanksgiving Day rolled around, and I was wide awake while Delores was still fully asleep. I wanted to check on my sisters and spend some quality time with them. I slipped out of the bed, quietly put clothes on for the day, then tiptoed to the living room. They were both asleep on their respective sofas, and I sat myself down on the rocking chair to be near them.
Jessica was the first to stir. She opened her eyes slowly, blinking to adjust to the light, and said,
I need to pee. I hugged my sister then helped her into her wheelchair as she said,
Wake Rachel. She will probably look for us otherwise.
I started hugging Rachel and gently kissed her on the cheek.
Is it morning?
Yeah. East Coast time, and Jess needs to go potty. Join?
I want a shower, Rachel yawned.
Let’s all get showers, Jessica suggested,
I think both of you are going to have to help me into the tub.
Rachel and I gathered clean clothes, then I tiptoed back into the bedroom to get myself clothes for the day. Delores was still asleep lightly snoring away, and I rejoined my sisters in the bathroom for both toilet and bath time.
She’s still sleeping, I whispered as we started undressing like we used to do back in the day. About the only difference was that we didn’t have the shower bench Jessica used from Delaney Street.
We finished our business in the bathroom (toilet & shower) and the three of us came back to the living room. Rachel asked,
What time is it?
It’s around 8 in the morning. Of course, you two sleepyheads still feel like it’s 5 in the morning, I replied.
So, there you are, Snapped an angry Delores,
In the fucking bathroom with, of all people, your sisters?
There’s no need to get ugly, Jessica said politely.
He’s my boyfriend, Delores snorted.
Jessica wasn’t too thrilled,
You know perfectly well I have special needs, and I wanted help from both my brother and sister.
Right, Delores said reluctantly, dejected, and unconvinced.
Breakfast, I asked, trying to smooth things over.
Rachel, the cereal we bought. Where did you put it?
On top of the fridge, like back on Delaney, She replied, walking off on an angry Delores who was still trying to cool down from that spat,
I’ll pour bowls. Michael, where are the bowls kept?
Later in the afternoon, it was time to start cooking dinner.
Delores is stubborn about others not being in the kitchen when she cooks, I said, leading my two sisters into the living room.
What channel is AWF on around here, Rachel asked.
Why you ask, I replied.
I always watch the AWF Turkey Brawl, She replied.
Channel 7, I answered.
My two sisters pulled out their small collection of movies when we heard footsteps, then a click from the kitchen. Delores started preparing to make Thanksgiving dinner. I looked up to investigate, and sure enough: Delores started prepping the kitchen for dinner. Then it hit me. Delores was naked. Totally and completely naked!
Shouldn’t you get dressed, I asked.
My two sisters looked up suspiciously and realized what was happening.
We don’t want to see that, Jessica said, as politely as she could.
I’m trying to cool off, and you three seem to like getting naked in front of each other. This is my house and I can do whatever the fuck I want, Delores snapped as she turned on the oven to preheat it. It was admittedly warm in the apartment.
We just think it’s inappropriate while you have guests, Rachel said awkwardly, still trying to stay polite.
Fine, Delores snarled,
I’ll get dressed! She then stormed off to the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.
Well that was uncomfortable. I don’t think I want to stay here if she’s going to continue to be like that. Rachel, will you pull out my laptop? I want to look at hotels, Jessica whispered.
There’s no Wi-Fi here, I said,
Only dial up.
I came prepared for that too, if there’s a router, Jessica replied.
There is not; only dial up, I responded.
Oh bother. Well, where is the yellow pages, Jessica asked.
Delores came back out, dressed this time, and went back to cooking without so much as an apology to any of us. It didn’t take Jessica too long to find a place and she started booking.
There. Wheelchair accessible and near the mall, She whispered.
We’re going to have a great Black Friday this year. Too bad the bus doesn’t start running until 7:15 tomorrow morning, Rachel lamented.
I’ll get us a cab, Jessica said.
What are you doing, Delores suddenly asked.
We are making plans for tomorrow, Jessica said tensely, deciding she didn’t want to talk to Delores. She feared she would blow up, and Delores’s mother and brother would be there soon. Delores went back into the kitchen to continue cooking and mumbled about how no one wanted to pitch in and help her (even after making it clear that she wouldn’t appreciate the help beforehand).