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In this crazy year, giving thanks for my mother

Even before a recent mishap, this holiday season was going to be different because of COVID-19.

FORT WORTH, Texas — For decades, my mother, Judy Ross, has made the best Thanksgiving feast on the planet.

I’m talking about a mammoth spread of turkey, chicken and dressing, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce and steaming hot rolls — plus carrot cake, chocolate pie and other homemade desserts that fill an entire table.

Amazingly, this big meal comes only a few hours after a “light” holiday breakfast that always includes fried and scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage, bacon and pancakes with chocolate syrup.


What am I thankful for? Well, for one thing, that I’ve never suffered a heart attack after all that I eat on this particular day.

But seriously, I’m grateful for Mom — a kind, loving Christian woman who has spent her entire life serving other people.

Related: My grandson, COVID-19 and me

Even before a recent mishap, Thanksgiving was shaping up to be a different experience for the extended Ross family in this crazy year. With concerns about big indoor gatherings contributing to the spread of COVID-19, crowding all the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandbabies and great-grandbabies into Mom and Dad’s home seemed unwise.

But then my iPhone buzzed on a recent Monday morning, and my sister Christy Fichter’s face flashed on the screen.

My baby sister, who is almost six years younger than I am, teaches special-needs students at a Fort Worth-area elementary school. If she calls just to chat, it’s typically not during the school day.

“How are you, big brother?” Christy asked, trying to sound calm.

Christy Fichter with her mother, Judy Ross.

Christy Fichter with her mother, Judy Ross.

Then she got to the point: Mom had fallen, and her ankle appeared to be broken (in three places, as it turned out, and smaller bones had been crushed). An ambulance was rushing her to the hospital.

Mom, who turned 73 this past summer, has dealt with a number of health issues in recent years, as has my father, Bob Ross, who is 75. This was the last thing they needed.

By the time my wife, Tamie, and I arrived at their home, Mom had been treated and her foot repositioned. She was discharged to await surgery in a few days after swelling subsided. It was a long night for Mom. In spite of the prescription pain medicine, she lay in agony on her living room couch.

Even as she battled the pain and nausea, she had the audacity to ask us if we needed anything to eat or drink.

Eventually, Mom’s pain became so severe that my sister took her back to the emergency room. Because of COVID-19 protocols, only one person at a time could be with Mom in the hospital. That person was required to wear a mask at all times.

Related: As thousands die from the coronavirus, does Jesus care?

After returning home from the hospital one night, my sister posted this on Facebook: “Just sitting here thinking about the fact that if you know my mom, then you have no choice but to love her! She’s been in severe pain for 36 sleepless hours. I’m leaving her hospital room tonight, and she tells me to text her to let her know I got home. (Her 47-year-old daughter … still her little girl.) Always more worried about everyone than herself. She had to text two of her neighbors to let them know that she wouldn’t be able to make cookies this weekend. (Because she typically bakes them treats on Saturday — just because.) There is not a stronger, more selfless woman in the world!”

Bob and Judy Ross enjoy a meal out before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Bob and Judy Ross enjoy a meal out before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.


I have no doubt that my brother, Scott, and numerous other friends and relatives (including my cousin Joe Lindsey, who sent a big bouquet of fresh flowers to the hospital) all agree.

The surgery went well, and when Dad pulled into the driveway and grabbed a wheelchair to help Mom into the house, a young neighbor rushed to assist. He didn’t even ask when she might next deliver homemade cookies.

On Sunday, Dad headed to preach at the Greenwood Church of Christ, a rural North Texas congregation that he has served for 18 years. He did so without the treats Mom usually bakes for the adult Bible class.

“A big Thanksgiving dinner will have to wait until next year, when I pray the pandemic will be resolved  and the world’s best mother will be feeling much better.”

I stayed home with Mom and prepared tacos for our lunch. Neither of us said it aloud, but I couldn’t help thinking her turkey, ham and all the fixings would have tasted much better.

Alas, Mom will be off her feet for a few months.

A big Thanksgiving dinner will have to wait until next year, when I pray the pandemic will be resolved  and the world’s best mother will be feeling much better.

Wherever you find yourself this holiday season and whatever the circumstances, may God bless you and your family and give you peace.

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Coronavirus COVID-19 family Inside Story medical National Rosses Texas Thanksgiving Top Stories

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