Hospice had been called in a few weeks before Christmas. Mom’s body and mind was in and out of tune depending on which medications had been fetched from her four by seven pill box. I would lie with her as soon as I got home from school whether she was sleeping or watching her Jesus shows. She was quite drawn to him towards the end.
That Christmas, my sister and I put the tree in the kitchen so my Mom could see it from her hospital bed in her room. It was more of a demand than a kind gesture if I’m being honest. We soon realized it was really just so she could tell us that the garland was too much and the balls weren’t spaced enough apart. It made for some good laughs, some eye rolls and a picture perfect Christmas tree when the boss said we were done.
I really can’t tell you much more about that Christmas other than it was the last one I got to spend with my Mom. It’s very blurry; however, one particular day before the holiday has stayed as vivid in my mind as the day my children were born.
We weren’t expecting any visitors that I knew of so I was surprised when I heard the knock on the door. I was even more confused when I saw a small group of adults wearing santa hats with arm loads of pristinely wrapped Christmas presents in their arms. I was greeted by “Merry Christmas” in unison and in they walked.
I quickly learned that these were Hospice volunteers. They took time out of their lives to come help me, a 15 year old girl, and her mother who’s life so savagely riddled her with cancer celebrate Christmas. They even brought gifts for my five year old niece who lived to laugh with her Grandma. It was love and selflessness in it’s purest form.
I honestly cannot tell you what any of those gifts were except one teddy bear that I strangely named Psycho. It doesn’t matter really. It was a moment of joy in the midst of the most heartbreaking time in my life that I will never forget.
As an adult, I have come to appreciate it even more. As a mother myself now, I can imagine how grateful my Mother must have been. It was a moment that I associate with learning the true meaning of Christmas.
Nothing embodies selflessness quite like Hospice does. Caring for not only a dying patient but their family as well is honorable. And these individuals that showed up at our door were their volunteers. This wasn’t a job that was assigned to them…they signed up to do it. I wish I knew who they were so I could tell them how much that meant to me and my family.
After Mom past away in early January, we received one more gift from Hospice. A stuffed bear adorned with skin sewn from my Mom’s favorite flannel shirt. The bears button eyes sparkle with her spirit…even at 32 I still see it. I cherish this bear and where it comes from.
Joy and sorrow comes in many forms and are often intertwined. For me, that Christmas, it was joy in the form of unfamiliar faces that came at a time when my spirit needed it the most.