Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Love Christmas

My mother died on Christmas Eve, 2002. My daughter and I were busy with Christmas preparations and the nursing home called and said we should come in right away. It was late morning. Mom was not able to communicate with us verbally and her eyes were closed. But she squeezed my hand and her hand was the same warm hand I always remembered. My mother always seemed to run hot and smelled like bananas and nicotine and coffee and perfume. It was not an unpleasant aura, though it sounds like it would be.
The charge nurse asked how aggressive I wanted to be. I will never forget that horrible question. How much I did not want to be in charge and how much I was not in charge at all, but the question set me on an unsure course, a moral dilemma: if I was not aggressive, Mom's death would be my fault.
Not much time to think, they wanted to draw blood from her. I agreed to it. What a mistake. The girl who drew the blood was surly and complaining that it was Christmas Eve. Mom's arm was withered and what good did it do?
My daughter wanted food so we walked up to the market. When we returned Mom had died. My daughter opened my mother's bottle of Norel and put a drop of perfume on Mom's breast bone. We were stunned but I did not mourn for several weeks.
We attended an Episcopal service that night and heard the old, traditional songs, the carols, sung. But it did not stir the grief just yet.
We continued with our Christmas the next day. My son and a friend went to the nursing home and moved out Mom's furniture and possessions.
And I knew Mom wanted to die on Christmas Eve because it was her signature. She had produced the most opulent Christmases we will ever know, for all of us, myself and my children and guests.
Rest in peace, Mom. I still hear your voice and though it isn't particularly kind, I miss you anyway!


  1. This is a beautiful story. I am sending you a hug.......

  2. Oh, Shelb. Christmas feelings. Whoa. I always have at least one really good Christmas cry, for what I don't always know. But the season sure stirs up a lot of stuff. I'm remember your mom's Christmas eves - I attended them at different locations all over Southern California it seems. I remember the Yorkshire pudding and the candles and the soft light, and your mom always looking beautiful. I'm sending you a sniffly hug as well, one fat tear coursing down my cheek. I love you, cuz!

  3. Hi Shelby! I love Christmas too. My grandmother died on Christmas Eve 1988. It's always given me a sad feeling for the holidays. I tend to prefer Thanksgiving because of it. That and the stuffing! Your story brought a tear to me. I really believe we choose our time to come and our time to go. My fathers mother, grandma Dot just died this last holiday season. The 28th, my dad's birthday. I know it was on purpose. XO G