This morning I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend whose mother is gravely ill with leukemia. We were talking about the challenges she is facing right now, nutritional, and brain storming on possible solutions or things to try. I have known her mom since I was a little girl. Her parents were “the cool, hip, hippy couple” in the small town I grew up in. They really were cool! She also has taken many years of painting lessons with me, I consider her my friend. She has a heart of gold, loves her family more than anything. Up until she could no longer do it physically, beautified her/their little spot in the world with magnificant beautiful gardens. As a master gardener, she also painted beautiful flowers as she sees them in her minds eye as she paints them. She knew every contour and detail of any flower I taught! I asked E if her parents had a tree up, she didn’t think so, as her mom had just gotten out of the hospital yesterday. I could see her mind working as she was thinking about an artificial prelit tree that she wondered if she still had… We spoke of the magical effect that Christmas trees can have on one. Upon finally sitting down this evening, making a few calls with a desire to help, I thought about my last Christmas with my sister, Darlene.
When you know someone is ill, you can fit in a lot of quality time, even if just “moments”. My sister LOVED Christmas. She wasn’t much of a shopper but at Christmas time she LOVED to shop for others. She was always so thoughtful with her gifts, and was very generous. I’m smiling as I’m recalling Christmas’s from our childhood. The older we got the earlier we would get up on Christmas morning. Our parents put a stop to it when we aroused our brother at 3am…. oh that is funny! To this day if we mention this to our parents they click their tongues and roll their eyes!
Knowing it was going to be our last Christmas together we all wanted to make it a good one. It was bittersweet. How wonderful to have your family together again for the holidays, yet how painstaking to know your time together is coming to close. She was very sick at this point, her time in bed had becoming longer and longer. I spent a lot of time with my sister during this time, helping out with transportation to treatment, etc.
I made/designed special ornaments, pertaining to her life. I can no longer remember all of them, but one was fishing and her red boat, her red snowmobile, and more. I bought a small Charlie Brown looking artificial tree, also a stuffed animal that I knew she would love (she never outgrew that!), and made a Santa hat for it. Decorated with lights, fishing bobbers and more it sat on a table beside her bed in their bedroom where she could look at it as often as she liked. There is something very magical not only about Christmas but christmas lights. For me I find they reflect the past, and mirror hope. This meant a lot to her. It also meant a lot to me and helped me in the difficult times following her passing.
The night before Hospice came to offiially came to fill out the paperwork and start the process there was a tremendous snow storm. I went outside and made her a snowman that she could see from her bedroom window. When the hospice nurse came the following day she mistakingly drove by a couple of times because she “knew my sister and her partner did not have any children” (referring to the snowman). My older sister and Darlene’s partner sort of rolled their eyes and pointed at me. I’m not really sure they understood the significance of the snowman but that’s okay, as I know Darlene appreciated it. Every roll of the snowballs or patting and smoothing of his physique was done with immensely felt love. I haven’t thought about these memories for a very long time. The conversation with E today brought all of this back. This beautiful young mother and wife has a lot on her plate. I hope she is able to get the tree over and up, as I think it will help her, too, in the difficult times ahead. Who doesn’t love Christmas lights?
I remember going to a friend’s house last Christmas who had terminally ill breast cancer. She was a woman of great faith, a beautiful person. There was not a stitch of holiday decorations in the house. To each their own, and with no judgement I just want to say, I would want them surrounding me during the season. I love them!
With that said, it has been many years since my home has been decorated. Yes, I have had out a few painted santa’s, but really no lights. I am laughing as I recall Christmas’s with Jim. One year I had PURPLE Christmas lights wrapped around garland which was wrapped around the top bar of our antique brass bed. That is how much I used to decorate! He eventually put his foot down to them being on all night. I just MAY do this for myself this year. I loved lying in bed, looking at the garland and lights. It still makes me smile.
It’s nice to see homes being decorated and dressed in lights this holiday season. It’s been a hard year for many, and Hurricane Irene ravaged parts of the beautiful State of Vermont (and others)… For me, to see the lights up, my spirit swells with joy. With the awe of a child and the wisdom of an adult I look at them and know, there is purpose, meaning and hope… Hope changes but it exists.
Yes, the Christmas spirit settled within me today. How welcoming, how magical, how beautiful… Merry Christmas , Happy Holidays or whatever you celebrate… may this season be joy in the making of beautiful memories……..