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Giving Thanks

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The most used disclaimer:
The TV show "Starsky and Hutch", and the characters from it
are the property of the persons who hold the copyrights
and other legal rights to them.
This story is a work of fiction, written for pleasure only
and not for profit. It is not intended, in any way,
to infringe on these preexisting copyrights.

GIVING THANKS

Jacqueline ©November 21, 2002

 

So here it was; that time of year again. Thanksgiving 1979.

What the hell do I have to be thankful for? Hutch's inner voice asked in quiet rage as he trudged through the supermarket.
Back at Starsky's apartment the turkey he'd prepared was already in the oven, and now he and Starsky were getting the final items to complete their Thanksgiving dinner.

The reason for his despondent mood was the fact that a little over a month ago, Starsky had been told he'd reached the limit of his recovery. And, to the disappointment of both friends, his condition was still so compromised that he would probably not pass the review board's requirements. That news had hit Starsky hard and had thrown his steady optimism out of sync. A period of severe mood swings followed after which only two options were possible: acceptance or defiance.
It didn't surprise Hutch at all that Starsky bounced back once more.

After an emotional storm that lasted nine days, Starsky had continued his regimen with Moses, his physical therapist, who was the only member of the medical team that had treated him who thought Starsky could still improve.
So far, the hunches of the disbelievers seemed right. Hutch could not detect any improvement in Starsky's physical condition either, but at least this new challenge Starsky had taken on had given him back his fighting spirit -- his spark.
Still, that didn't keep Hutch from feeling despondent.
On the contrary; seeing the recurrence of Starsky's optimism while his physical condition still lagged behind, only caused Hutch to be overcome with feelings of hopelessness more so than before.

Look at you! he thought, cringing as he watched Starsky fumble to open a plastic bag at the produce section.
You can't even do something as simple as that!
"You want me to give you a hand with that?" he asked after observing the scene for another minute.

"Nah, I've got it," was Starsky's answer, while still pre-occupied with the plastic bag.

No you don't 'got it'! You're getting nowhere, you imp! Can't you see that???
Finally he couldn't stand it anymore.
"Starsk, we have to get home or we'll blow up the turkey. You wouldn't want that, would ya?" he said while masking his irritation with a velvety tone to his voice.

"Oh, I'm sorry. Here ya go. I picked out some nice ones!" Starsky gave in easily, pleased with his choice of corn.
His enthusiasm was only met with a stifled sigh.

They finished their shopping and stood in the checkout line. Hutch was checking if he could detect a shorter queue at one of the other cash registers since he could see Starsky's energy level was fading. No such luck.
Finally, fifteen minutes later, they made their way to the Torino. Though Starsky had driven them over to the shopping center, he did not protest when Hutch just walked over to the driver's side after putting the groceries in the trunk.
Another piece of evidence to feed Hutch's dark feelings about this years Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

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They were greeted by the wonderful smells from the kitchen when they entered Starsky's apartment.
"Whoa, smells terrific, don't it, Hutch? I think you outdid yourself, Blintz!" Starsky cheered.
He had only carried up one grocery bag, since he still needed to hold on to the banister while using the stairs.

"Yeah, great," Hutch replied absentmindedly.
"I'm going to get the other bags," he continued while putting the two bags he'd carried on the kitchen counter.

"Sure," Starsky replied while putting all the groceries away.

When Hutch returned with the last bags, Starsky asked,
"What time did ya say everyone's gonna start comin'?"

"I don't know. You invited them," Hutch said, a tad snappy.
He could hear the irritation in his own voice and turned to Starsky with an apologetic look.
"Around six thirty I think."

Starsky hadn't even blinked an eye when Hutch snapped. He understood. He knew.
He knew more than Hutch thought he did.
"What d'ya want me ta do, hmmm?" he asked.

Hutch was not entirely happy with Starsky's offer to help.
Your fine motor skills still suck. What the hell can you do without causing dinner's delay until nine PM!!!!!
"Why don't you uh, why don't you, uh ---- "

"Mash the potatoes?" Starsky offered.

"Yeah, why don't you mash the potatoes. Terrific, Starsk," Hutch managed to feign enthusiasm.
You don't have the strength yet. That's going to be a damned lumpy mash!

They worked together and finished preparing the dinner in silence.

 

 

 

******************************************

The dinner guests arrived. The Dobey family had kindly accepted the invitation to celebrate with Dobey's “finest” for a change. After all, it had been such an eventful year filled with drama, that they were only too happy to exchange a family tradition for a celebration of life for once.

Huggy was there, as were Rachel Starsky and her sister Rosie and her husband, Al. And, of course Moses, Starsky's physical therapist and new dear friend, was there.

Hutch had prepared a wonderful meal, with some last minute help from Rachel, Rosie and Edith Dobey.
Everyone brought their specialty dish to the meal so it was truly a table filled with riches.

Harold Dobey played "dad" and cut the turkey for everyone. After their plates were filled with plenty of the warm and rich traditional dishes, the time had arrived to look back, consider the present, contemplate the future, and most importantly, give thanks.

Being the most authoritative male at the table, Harold Dobey began.
"I just want to say thanks for the here and now. I want to thank our Lord for good company of family and friends. I want to thank our Lord for providing for us, in good times and bad. Giving us shelter, and warmth, food and comfort all at the right moment when they are needed most. I want to thank our good Lord for allowing me to be here today, to enjoy the miracle of life. He gave it to all of us sitting here around this table. To some he gave it more than once----"

As could be expected, after the tumultuous year that lay behind all the guests, everyone was lost in their own thoughts for a brief moment, when these words left Harold Dobey's mouth.

Rachel said her own private thanks to God for saving her son's life.
Rosie and Al looked deeply into each other’s eyes before glancing over at their nephew.
Moses looked over at Starsky and winked at his favorite patient.
Cal Dobey was quietly focusing on the contents of his plate, fervently trying to prevent some tears from spilling.
After all, he was practically a man now.
Rosey Dobey listened to her father's words with care as she studied all the grown-ups around the table.
Edith looked at Dave Starsky and sent him a warm smile.

And Hutch? Hutch was still filled with mixed emotions.
Come on, Captain! God gave life twice to some? Just what kind of life did he give Starsky this second time?
What good is it being reborn at age 32, dependent on others, not able to provide for your own income, scarred for life inside and out? What good is it to be reborn, when pain and restrictions dominate your new life? Thankful? For what?

Starsky looked at Dobey when he talked about God giving life twice to some and smiled.
There ain't too many people who are given a second chance. I gotta make the most of it. Six months ago I was dead!
There's a meaning to all this. There's gotta be!
He glanced sideways at Hutch and again, he knew -----

Harold Dobey continued.
"This Thanksgiving,1979, is one we will remember for the rest of our lives. Because we all were blessed to witness a miracle."
So far Dobey had spoken in his mild tone of voice, but for the next part he returned to his usual cadence when his giving thanks ended in somewhat of a lecture.
"So I suggest we all take the hint and learn from this past year's experiences.
We're just tiny little specks on God's great, good earth."

He looked at Rachel Starsky and invited her to give thanks.
In a soft voice the attractive, middle-aged brunette spoke.
"I can be brief ---- I can be brief because there aren't enough words anyway to describe how thankful I am for what Harold just mentioned --- God's gift of life."
Rachel placed her hand on the arm of her son, who was sitting next to her.
"I've grieved before. But no matter how old a mother's child is, it's always worse to have to consider mourning the loss of a child.
But, -- as the saying goes, God is good, and He saved my son. Forgive me for being selfish, but that's my main reason this year to be grateful."

To lighten up the mood at the table Rachel finished her little speech by saying,
"I'm even grateful for the relieved look in Davey's eyes when I tell him I won't be staying long --- then I know for sure it's just like old times!" Rachel winked at her son and then kissed him on the cheek, while all the guests - except Hutch - chuckled at Starsky's embarrassment.

Although everyone expected Starsky to be the next one to say thanks, he passed the baton to Rosey Dobey.

First her eyes opened wide with shock at the thought it was her turn, but then the little girl uttered her words of thanks.
"I want to thank God for taking care of my family, my mom, my dad, my brother, my nana, my aunts and uncles, and everyone I forgot. Then I want to give God special thanks for taking care of my friends. For saving Dave and helping him heal, for taking care of Hutch so that he doesn't worry too much, and for aunt Rachel because she's just the right mom for Dave."

This last remark brought a unanimous smile to everyone's face.

"I also want to thank God for Moses, our Moses, for making him so big and strong. I think Moses is the biggest angel I've ever seen, and I believe God sent him over to help make Dave whole again. You're cool, Moses. I like you a lot!"

Now the adults around the table were caught up in a mix of laughter and tears after such clear and true words of the youngest dinner guest. Rosey pinched Cal to let him know he should give thanks next.

"Oooowwww, cut that out Rose!"

"Cal!" Harold Dobey jumped into dad mode instantly and with one look told his teenage son to "get on with it".

"Well, I just wanna --- I just want --- to say thanks for everything everyone mentioned so far. This has got to have been the weirdest year I can remember. I think we came way too close to not having anything to be thankful for this year. So for God taking care of things so we still would have something to be grateful for, I'm really thankful."

Rosie and Al gave their thanks to God for the life of their nephew, for being amongst family and good friends, old and new, young and old. Huggy was up next.

"I just want to thank God for placing me on this particular spot on His planet, so I could live and breathe the same air as the fine group of people seated at this table now. For that, for love, and for the company of good friends I say thanks to the Man upstairs. And for the vibe --- that special vibe all of us here share. I believe that vibe gave wings to Curly here, not to fly up there, but to speed up his recovery here. To the vibe!"

And then it was Hutch's turn. But Hutch waved his turn to Moses who, after an initial hesitance, took the baton.

"I want to give thanks to our Lord for an incredible year. As Captain Dobey said before, I've been given the blessed gift of watching the miracle of rebirth first hand. We all know Dave was not supposed to have been here with us at the table.
That's how bad the situation was. Believe you me: volumes are being written as we speak about our miracle man's recovery. But I think I witnessed more than one miracle. It was like watching a miracle inside a miracle.
This guy, " Moses looked fondly at Dave who smiled shyly and concentrated on watching his plate,
"this guy is God's first miracle in this whole situation. He just wouldn't give up! God blessed him with a stubbornness that mules can learn from, I'm tellin' ya! Now I thank the Lord for the gift of life for sure, but I also want to thank Him for bringing Dave into my life and thereby teaching me the true meaning of the words resilience, determination, and courage.
And I want to thank two other people for teaching me about friendship, love, motherhood, and patience. Thank you Rachel and Hutch, I'm blessed for knowing you both."

Again the baton was passed to Hutch, but still he relinquished, and so it was Starsky's turn.
He gazed long at Hutch before clearing his throat to begin his word of thanks.
"A person doesn't know what gratitude is until he has come back from the grave.
I always considered myself a pretty good guy who thanked people for stuff they did for me. But in hindsight that was just lip service. It's like sayin' 'I'm fine' after someone asks ya how you're doing. It kinda comes out automatically. Not anymore.
I've witnessed self-sacrifice of people just for the purpose of getting me back on my feet. They didn't need ta do that, but they did.
I learned the gift of love all over again. Love made them give themselves completely for my benefit. When Moses thanks God for getting to know me, he's got it backwards. I didn't teach nobody about stuff like resilience and courage and what was that other thing? Determination. You guys brought that out in me. You encouraged me to hang in there; to believe there was light at the end of the tunnel and to keep working to achieve my goals.
You guys were heaven sent, I really believe that. I couldn'ta done it without you all. Cos I wanted to get well for myself, but for you, too. You've invested so much of yourselves in me, it seemed only fair in return that I'd do my very best."

Starsky paused and exchanged a look with Moses, who nodded his head to Starsky with a content expression on his face.

"Anyway, to make a long story short - TOO LATE! -" Starsky exclaimed with a mischievous grin on his face,
"I'm gonna finish off with some good news. Y'all know we got some disappointing news some time ago and uhm, well, how that affected me at first. I was not a happy camper, to say the least. But thanks to the love and support of everyone close to me - my wonderful partner and best friend, Moses, and my mom-- hell -- I mean heck --- everyone of you here at this table --- I am proud to announce to you I've made progress, and Mo and me have been practicin' the review boards requirements test the past three days, and as things are now, I'm gonna pass for a part-time job at the station! 60%!!!"

Everyone at the table, except Hutch, cheered and applauded. Starsky simply beamed, put his arm around Hutch's shoulder and patted him as he passed the baton to his best friend and partner.

Hutch's mind was warbling. For a long moment he looked Starsky straight in the eyes and read what he saw there.
God, you are simply radiant! I haven't seen a 100% return of that spark in over six months!
You really want this, don't you partner? Who am I to stand in your way? You did it. With sheer determination you apparently overcame the last hurdles, even when you were told you'd reached your limit. Will you ever stop teaching me, Starsk, about resilience, dogged determination and courage?
Moses is so right. You ARE a gift.
Who am I to complain about you not being your old self anymore, not up to your full - past - ability, when the alternative would have been not having you here with me at all?
Who am I to complain when you can't master the finer motor skills yet, when just trying to accomplish something gives you so much of a goal to work toward?
Who am I to cut you off or take things out of your hands just because I can't accept that you aren't the same Starsky as before May 15th? Before bullets ripped you apart. Before you breathed your last breath but still came back.
How can I dismiss the tremendous fight you put up, just to be able to do the simplest things, just because you didn't come back to me for the full 100%. When the cold hard reality of it all is that you shouldn't even BE here at all!

Hutch blinked away the mist that had formed in his eyes and gave his best friend a warm, loving smile. The smile he knew he'd kept from Starsky for too long, because he had not been able to come to peace with their new reality.
He cleared his throat, sighed, and then smiled shyly at the dinner guests who were patiently awaiting his word of thanks.
In a soft voice, Hutch spoke,
"After all these wonderful words spoken by all of you, my dear, dear friends --- After this wonderful news about my best friend and partner, there isn't much left for me to say. Still I'll try, and I hope you'll bear with me, and I hope the food will still be edible once I'm finished!"

Everyone chuckled. Hutch sighed again before continuing.
"I want to give thanks for some important lessons I've learned over the past year.
In all honesty, in hindsight, I can see now that I was losing myself. Call it an early midlife crisis --- I don't know.
Man struggles with these questions about the "meaning of life" over the entire duration of his existence. I was no different. Now, looking back, at this past year with all its horrors especially, I realize the meaning of life should always have been clear to me. He walked beside me, he guarded my back, he gave me comfort and shelter and stood by me --- always, even when he didn't exactly agree with me. I took him for granted way too many times, and it took God's hardest lesson for me to realize just how lucky a man I am. I'm not a religious man, but I do know there is a God, and I do know now He wouldn't have let Starsky die. It was a wake up call, and the only reason it had to be such a rude awakening was my own blindness.
I thank God for this harsh lesson. I thank Him for sending me my best friend to always keep me on the right track, or at least returning me to it."

Hutch smiled wearily at Starsky, whose eyes, like those of the rest of the dinner guests, were filling up with tears, before ending his speech on a slightly lighter note.
"For now I know that all the teasing, all the annoying trivia, the crazy theories and beliefs, the stupid jokes and impossible culinary choices couldn't possibly spring from any real human being, but only from some dirty little angel, kicked down from the Stars and the Sky, to keep me on my right path.
I thank God for deporting Dave Starsky to earth. I'm glad for the fact that you're still here to mess up my life!"

And with those last words, Hutch pulled Starsky close to him so their heads touched, and the dinner guests, once again, cheered and applauded.

Starsky mumbled under his breath to Hutch,
"For cripes sake, ya know I hate soapy scenes!"

Hutch just grinned at his best friend.

Then Starsky roared,
"Let's get this meal goin'! I know for one that I'll be grateful if this turkey's still above room temperature!"

They all began eating, and the evening became just as special, emotional and memorable as the rest of this roller coaster year had been.
1979, a year everyone would just as soon forget to have ever happened, in the end brought much good to all concerned........


 

 

 

THE END