Thursday, December 12, 2013

The joy of gifts

Dear Mom,  
Mimi and Andy's home, 2011, Andy's last Christmas.
Mimi was living at Brighton Gardens,
but her home still held her spirit.

Anyone who knew you well was aware of your full-on embrace of gift-giving at Christmas.  You had a knack for keeping one eye open for special gifts year' round and storing them until the holiday season arrived.  I remember one year, when I was 10, I decided to snoop and forage.  I found your stash and rifled through it all, imagining what was intended for whom in our little rambler on Brant Avenue.  It was a bad decision on my part, but that is not what I want to say to you today.

Let me ask you this.  Once the gifts were wrapped and placed under the tree, did you have a favorite?  Was there one you were most delighted about giving?  I suspect that may have been the case for you and one of the many things you passed along to me.  I surely found that as I grew into adulthood, I always had a favorite among the gifts I was giving.  Often it was one I had made by hand for one of my siblings or a dear friend.  

Last night as I was driving at dusk, a most splendid gift revealed itself!  You painted the sky with orange, pink and white, great swaths of color against the waning blue of day and the darker hues of approaching night.  The silhouette of the Olympic Mountains offset the blazing sky! Thank you!  I cried with the sure knowledge that you were at the easel, mother; that you had created this masterpiece and sent it my way.  What joy I had in receiving it!

Apparently, and true to form, you had more to offer: here is the sunrise that followed.

As I snapped this picture, I remembered a special time shared with you in December 2011.  Karen and her husband, Craig, drove to Columbia from Selinsgrove to visit us, a reunion that brought immense emotion for all of us.  When we came to Brighton Gardens to share her with you, you showed a sliver of happiness.  Then a most miraculous thing: your eyes lit up, you turned to Karen, and you formed these words: "I recall!"

Karen puts her final touch upon my mother's
long and blessed life.

  What a moment!  What a moment indeed!

That moment, Mom, is one of the greatest gifts we gave to one another: me, taking part in the reunion; you, reaching into your heart and brain and making a connection despite the grip that Alzheimer's had upon your life.

I relish in the memory.  And I give thanks for the unbreakable bond we share.

Merry Christmas!

Your Jenny


  1. Never did a daughter love her mother more than you loved Mimi. Sending love and hugs for this special time of year: look for the light.

  2. Oh just unleashed a flood of tears....uncontrollable sobbing, Roadie is trying to console me, bless her heart. I didn't realize how much I miss Mom this time of year. Today, the only Santa I chose from her collection, one that I gave her many years ago, a wooden one on a bicycle, was knocked over by Belly Jones, and Santa's arm was broken in half. Last year around this time, I fell and broke my arm. It's Friday the 13th...maybe that energy is in full force. All I know is that your words have broken loose a damn of pent up emotions....and I trust and know it is good. So thank you love. Your writing is so precious. I hope that one day your words, like your daily life, reach many more hearts. Thank you for opening mine tonight.

  3. PS. My favorite gifts to give each year are the ones that will light someone up!

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  5. Thank you Jenny. I wish to help my mom recall, even if it's just recalling not being angry, worried or anxious. She gave me a 3 ring binder about 10 or 12 yrs ago that had 75 pages in it of photocopies of my grandmothers sheet music, covers and all, Christmas songs only, from 1934 to 1962. I'm going to reproduce it and send it to my sister-in-law so that she can play the piano for her.
    Your writing made me reconsider what my parents did to make Christmas for us all those years. This is not the first time I thought of the year the piano came to our house or the year there was an angel on a package that looked awesomely special and it was... ICESKATES. They were white ones without a mark on them. I skated on those so long and so hard, I nearly flew away. I saw that sunset too and was startled by it. Thank you for your thoughts, and feelings. Many blessings to you and your family.