A special Christmas memory.
| One year I worked part-time at Macy’s and got employee discounts. That same year my mother was recovering from a heart attack. She had failing kidneys, diabetes, gout, and had not regained mobility after breaking a hip the previous year. Most of the time, my mother sat in her nightgown and robe all day, unable to lie down and breathe well for long. She slept a lot sitting up. Her eyesight had deteriorated so much that she struggled to read, her favorite pastime, and eventually stopped trying. She told me most things were a blur to her.
The doctors had told us that she didn’t have long. We didn’t think she would make it to Christmas. She had told me she was out of perfume, so I decided I would get her some with my discount. Her favorite had been Tweed, but had not been made for decades. She now liked White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor. So did I. When Macy’s put it on sale in a special Christmas gift set, I got one for her.
I wrapped it and took it to her house; I lived 70 miles away. There were two weeks at least before Christmas, and my family feared she wouldn’t be here. So one afternoon, when we were alone, I pretended I was too excited to wait and told her that my present to her was something she could use right now. Why wait?
She was willing to go along with it. She sat in her soft rocker recliner-which she never reclined-surrounded by her “sick” things. Her hand lotion, tissues, glasses, a glass of water, and cough drops; all were at reaching distance. She opened the gift slowly. I was on my knees beside her chair. She was soft-spoken and fragile, but acted very excited, like it was the most precious gift in the world. She always appreciated every gift and made us feel like we'd done something special. She reminded me it was her favorite fragrance, and was all smiles.
The Christmas gift enclosed with the special set was a watch like one of Liz Taylor’s. My mom admired it, and said jokingly, “Liz would never wear an imitation”. We laughed and had a good time joking over it, just us girls, like we could imitate Liz's bigger than life glamour. She thanked me repeatedly and told me how useful it would be. And she did use it every time she expected company, or went out to the doctor. However, I still have the gold-finish, rhinestone watch in the box to this day, never worn.
She went on to slowly recover, just hanging in day to day. She lasted another year and a half before the fatal heart attack. The doctors admitted she surprised them all with her returning strength. Every event with her that Christmas was deep and meaningful to all of us. But I will always cherish the memory of the early Christmas that I shared with her, just us two. The warmth and the joy we had at that low moment in her life will stay with me forever.