Interesting the things we remember when certain holidays roll around. Seems to me holidays have a way of making us go back in time.
The phone rang very early that Christmas morning: “Uh, huh, OK, yes, I will come. I will be there as soon as I can.” I hung up the phone. “Who was that?” my wife, waking up, asked. “It was Mom. She said Dad has taken a turn for the worst, looks like he might not live through the day.”
I traveled about two hours back to what once had been my home, Terre Haute, Indiana. I left my wife and small children on this Christmas morning. Walking down stairs I passed the tree with all the gifts underneath. The tree all decorated and the lights on. It looked like something out of Norman Rockwell painting.
About two hours later arriving at the hospital, the parking lot was rather empty. Not many folks at a hospital on Christmas day. Walking into the lobby, I caught the elevator and was the only one riding.
For the rest of the day and well into the evening, I sat with my mother as they attended to dad. He had been in the hospital for some time. It was oh so quiet; you could hear every sound. Off in the distance, you might have heard a phone ring or footsteps of a nurse as she made her way up and down the hall. Lunch and Christmas dinner consisted of a sandwich from a vending machine, a bag of chips and a coke. Later that day, one of the nurses on the floor brought us some coffee and a piece of homemade apple pie. Surprisingly, my father did live through the day, passing a few days later.
“Merry Christmas” is an expression we often hear this time of year. Today as I sat by myself drinking my early- morning coffee at my coffee place with Christmas just being five days away, that memory came back to me. It has never completely left.
“ Merry” for some at this time of year can be anything but; cancer, divorce, death, downsizing, job loss, fill in the blank. At this time of year, there are those who need our remembrance, our support. Something that simply says to them, “I know you are out there, and I know that Christmas is not always Merry for you.”
Often, I still think of that December 25, 1974 and how my family and I spent that Christmas day.
December 20, 2012