They started in my church parking lot. When I turned in, off of 26th Street, an older masked man motioned for me to veer right. Then a second older masked man signaled for me to open my window. He leaned over and told me to follow the car in front of me. I did. And there was our pastor, masked and jogging from car to car to get our orders. I choked up.

Enter COVID-19. No church Thanksgiving dinner the Sunday before. But the two women who normally “run” our church kitchen had offered to make drive-by Thanksgiving dinners available for pick up between 4 and 6 pm. We could order as many as we wanted at no cost.

When Pastor David appeared outside my passenger window, he motioned for me to open it so he could take my order. I could not figure out how to open that window on what was Marv’s car. After jamming my finger down on several possibilities, with no luck, I held up three fingers. With his eyes smiling, he signaled that he got it and turned to signal someone behind him.

Just like that a head appeared at my passenger window. I leaned over to see that it was a young child holding three bags. I’d ordered three dinners–one for me, two for friends who also live alone. Because the child’s hands were full, I stretched over as far as I could to open the door. As he hoisted the bags, one by one, to the height of the seat, tears formed in my eyes while I thanked him over and over for helping.

I made it out of the parking lot, turned left on Bahnson, and headed home. Simultaneously, I started to sob. People are so kind.

Driving south on Bahnson, I gulped, sobbed, gulped, and sobbed. To think I was here in Sioux Falls, alone on a Sunday afternoon, able to pick up dinners that took a coordinated effort from lots of people, most of all our notable women in the kitchen, unleashed a flood of gratitude from deep down in my heart.

My vision blurred with wetness. I tried to stop weeping, but finally told myself to just let go and howl. Years of Thanksgiving memories scrolled through my head. Leaving Chicago early to make it to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a family gathering at my brother’s. Praying the roads would be snow and ice-free as we traveled around the bottom of Lake Michigan. Finding our place-cards at the table that my sister-in-law lovingly kept track of so we’d sit next to different family members each year. Spending hours at the table after dinner solving all the gals’ problems while the guys took naps.

I discovered, once again, that my sob/weep/howl resembles a rather nice soprano. My voice soared up to A flat and morphed, automatically, into Marv’s favorite song:

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses,

And the voice I hear falling on my ear, 

The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own;

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

Twelve minutes later, I arrived home, cried out, but with heart consoled. People are so kind was running on a continuous loop in my consciousness.

Thanksgiving 1970 at my brother’s home

On this 28-month anniversary of Marv’s death, I wish you all a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!