The Thanksgiving Table

  • Nov. 8, 2018
  • #9529

Thanksgiving dinner while visiting mom in a nursing home turns out to be a blessing for the whole family.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with my good and wise friend Shauna Amick. Shauna welcome.

SHAUNA: Thank you Joni.

JONI: You’re a mom of a disabled daughter and this is Long-Term Care Awareness Month. Now, surely you must have some thoughts about that with Sarah growing up; one day you will get old, you and your husband won’t be able to care for her. What are your thoughts about that?

SHAUNA: Well, you know Joni, it’s amazing that the day we got Sarah’s diagnosis, which was while I was even five months pregnant with her (JONI: and its Down syndrome, right?) That’s right. That was the very first thought that we had: “Who is taking care of this child when we can’t?” I never really thought about a family’s need for long term care, residential care, until my family needed it and needed it fast, but I have to tell you, Joni, that need came to us a lot sooner than we realized, not through Sarah, but through my very own mom.

JONI: Wow! So she is in a long-term facility?

SHAUNA: That’s right. My mother has been living in a nursing home now for just over four years; ever since she became paralyzed from the waist down due to complications from kidney disease and dementia as well. She requires 24/7 care and I just praise God that we were able to find a loving, compassionate assisted living home that not only cares for my mom’s physical and emotional needs, but embraces are whole family.

JONI; I know that since you are a part of the “sandwich generation” you are caring for your children, you are caring for your mother, every family member can be a good support to their loved one who might be in a long term care facility, isn’t that right?

SHAUNA: That is, that’s right and it is so important that the care facility as you said embraces the family because otherwise it is just fragmented, but when that staff is dedicated it just makes a world of difference to the whole family.

JONI: Absolutely. Stay involved; call the facility often, find out who the charge nurse is, know her name, check on your mother. I mean all those things you can do, even from a long distance. So, your mom is in a facility and your daughter has Down syndrome and the holidays are right around the corner. What does this “sandwich generation” thing mean to you knowing that Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away? What will it look like?

SHAUNA: It will be beautiful! We have been doing this, like I said, for several years now, having Thanksgiving in that nursing home. And I wasn’t sure at first, what is it going to be like, is it going to be a disappointment, will it be awkward. I was actually sad the first year that my mom was in that nursing home thinking there is no decorating my dining room table; there is no lighting a fire in the fireplace. Instead we just packed up our whole family and packed up a picnic and headed off to see my mother in an atmosphere that really felt a lot like a sterile hospital. Except we brought love with us.

JONI: How’s that?

SHAUNA: Well the love we have for each other and the thankfulness I had in my heart for not knowing how many more Thanksgivings would I even have with her. I was thrilled that we had at least that one more.  And I remember on that first Thanksgiving in her nursing home we put the meal on her little moveable bed table (you know those little hospital tables you have next to the bed) that was our Thanksgiving table. And to me, well it wasn’t a Norman Rockwell painting or anything like that, but it turned in to such a beautiful example of gratitude; I just remember my heart overflowing as I prayed: Lord who am I that you would allow me the honor of feeding this woman who once had to spoon-feed me as a baby.

JONI: Friend, this Thanksgiving season I hope that you will go out of your way to bless someone living in a long term care facility. Dementia and disability can be so isolating, but Jesus wants to use you to set the lonely in the family of God, so go to and find out ways you can help friends like Shauna’s mother. Thank you, Shauna for coming.

SHAUNA: Thank you Joni and hey, Happy Thanksgiving!

JONI: Happy Thanksgiving!  

© Joni and Friends



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