My fondest Christmas memory
is a more recent one from 2012. Prior to Christmas, my brother and I helped move my mother, age 91, to an assisted living home in Rochester, just minutes from my house. Within a few months, COPD and a heart condition took its toll, and Thelma had a pacemaker, was wheelchair bound and on oxygen. She was of sound mind, however, and concerned about Christmas. So before the weather turned nasty, I packed up her oxygen tank and wheelchair, and took her Christmas shopping at Carson’s at the Village of Rochester Hills.
She hadn’t been shopping for some time. For the past couple of years, she would pick gifts, as well as her own clothing, from a huge stack of annual catalogs she got in the mail. What a kick to wheel her all around the department store; she pointed and I pushed. I think her favorite was shopping in the little girl’s department for her great-granddaughter Lillian, who was just four, because she could browse through the racks of clothes herself. I remember how she smiled when she picked an outfit complete with a matching coat.
We got a bite to eat and headed home. She was tired, but happy. In the following weeks, I wrapped gifts for her at her place so she could see everything. She wanted to sign the gift cards herself.
On Christmas day, the aides at Sunrise dressed her in her favorite, red cardinal Christmas sweater, blue jeans, and fuzzy purple slippers (because of bunions, her feet no longer fit into shoes. Everywhere she went, people complimented her slippers). I picked her up and brought her to our house. We wheeled her to our sliding glass door in the back, and my son, son-in-law and husband lifted her up the three steps, wheelchair and all, to bring her inside. I was afraid she might get spilled, but there was no need to worry. She barely weighed 95 pounds.
It was such a joy for everyone having her over after spending so many holidays at her house in Ohio– she was still cooking a full course meal (always beef tenderloin) for the family when she was in her late eighties! 2011 was the last Christmas we had at her house; we opted for an easy dinner with IKEA meatballs and frozen mashed potatoes, since she was using a cane after breaking her pelvis.
She peacefully passed away ten months later (obituary). I’m forever grateful for that last Christmas, and that last year our family had with her here in Michigan. My children absolutely adored her.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell the truth without shame.
Angelica had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.
Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
Readers’ Favorite Finalist
USA Book News Best Book Finalist
Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters