When I was ten years old, my mother received an urgent call from her hometown in Kansas. Her mother had suffered a stroke and wasn’t expected to live through the night. “How soon can you come?”
My good father is a skilled tradesman who worked steady and hard all of his life to support his wife and large family. But auto mechanics were not well compensated and six children were very costly. So cash for traveling required a quick loan on his car. The ticket was purchased and a cold winter night in early December 1958 found Mom on the train, hurrying to an unhappy destination.
However, Grandma did live through that night (and ultimately eight years more!). My mother stayed with her until the crisis passed. Day after uncertain day went by. Christmas neared and we didn’t know if our mom would be home for the holidays. Oh, how I missed her!
A few days before Christmas, my oldest brothers came home from the Air Force and college. No one had made preparations for the holidays. So we all piled in the car and headed out for the most incredible shopping day of our lives before or since.
My sisters and I bought groceries and my brothers bought gifts! The turkey was stuffed that day. It was stuffed into an old Kaiser, along with six kids (ages 10-21), sacks of groceries, bags of gifts, tubes of wrapping paper and somehow, even a Christmas tree! The doors would barely shut. The trunk wouldn’t! It was the twelve days of Christmas in a Kaiser!
Best of all, later that evening we learned that Mom would be home for Christmas!
I don’t remember Christmas Day or the presents I got that year at all. What I do remember is how good it felt to be together. Isn’t it a shame how we easily we take that for granted? I remember that we all grew-up a little as we tried to fill Mom’s shoes. I remember that all six of us put together couldn’t do it, still can’t.
Recently my mother, Arlene Greenwood-Thompson, was a patient for a month at Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. It was my intention to conclude this article with an appeal for cards and prayers for Mom and a thank you for those already sent. But you see, Mom is no longer a patient at Hamot.
On December eighth Mom was being sent home. Once again we tried to fill her shoes to have her house decorated for her just the way she likes it. Once again we found that all of us together can’t fill her shoes but we were together again and mom was on her way. In her family’s arms again and seeing us all together, Mom was at peace and passed away two days later. Now she is ‘Home’ indeed.
But because a little baby was born in Bethlehem thousands of years ago, i know we will see her again. This unforgettable holiday season, I thank God and His mercy for what my mother used to call the “TRUE” meaning of Christmas: Christ and Love for our fellow man. And this I believe is Peace on Earth!
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