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"Happy Thanksgiving '04"

Today, many families around the United States will gather around the dinner table, enjoy a home-cooked meal, and celebrate the joy of being together. We will do the same, although there will be one missing person - our father.

It's an Agoglia family tradition that when all the food has been placed on the table and after a Thanksgiving blessing has been said, we share what we're thankful for over the past year. Since 1991, my Thanksgiving thought has always been the same: that mom could be with us to celebrate this occasion. You may ask, "why has it always been the same?"

During the 1991 Thanksgiving holiday, we almost lost my mother in a terrible car accident. It was Sunday morning and as usual, dad made his famous morning breakfast. Mom decided to go to church early and attend Sunday School, and we would meet her later on for the general service. As we were eating, the phone rang. I could tell the phone call wasn't good because my dad's demeanor quickly changed as he listened to the caller. The caller was a police officer. He shared that mom was in a bad car accident, that she had to be extracted from the car, and was rushed to the closest hospital.

On our way to the hospital, we passed the scene of the accident. We noticed mom's car was completely totaled. When we got into the emergency room, Dad and I went directly to the room where she was waiting on x-ray results.

Mother looked rather good, considering the condition the car was in. Our fears were somewhat alleviated until mom asked that my father place a pillow under her legs. The minute he lifted her legs, mom screamed in pain. It was so bad that I quickly became nauseous for I knew her condition was much worse than we thought. I went out to the waiting room to be with my brothers since I couldn't bear to see my mom in this condition.

About 30 minutes later, dad came out into the waiting room. I noticed something that I hadn't seen in quite some time - my father had tears streaming down his face. When I asked him if everything was ok, he shared that we almost lost mother. The police officer who called my dad made a special trip to the hospital, just to let us know that he had never seen someone come out alive from a similar accident. If she hadn't had her seatbelt on, she would have clearly gone through the front windshield. Dad's tears clearly demonstrated to us his thankfulness that mom was still alive. Soon afterwards the doctors indicated that the left side of my mother's body (from the hip down) was crushed. Thus, her journey to recovery would be a long one. She still faces each day with chronic pain because of this accident.

This year as we gather around the table, I still feel that same gratitude that my mom is able to be with us. But just as my dad's tears were an expression of his love and gratefulness that she was alive, now our tears express a different sentiment. My feelings are mixed because at this years family blessing, I can't reach over to my father and grab his hand. I can look at my mother and express my thankfulness that she is with us to celebrate Thanksgiving. But my tears reflect my sadness that he's not in his familiar seat around the table. Within that same feeling, I am also deeply thankful for the many years I had with my dad. I am thankful to our Lord that I had the privilege of being his son and that I was under his guidance and direction. So although it's bittersweet, I can sincerely be thankful.

On this particular Thanksgiving when tears form at the thought of my father, may each teardrop be an expression of my thankfulness to God for allowing us to know the father/husband we once knew and loved.

The Agoglia family would like to wish you a very special Thanksgiving.

With love,

The Agoglia Family