Christmas was a magical event at our home growing up. I was always so captivated by mom's efforts to make it special for her kids. From the soft glow of the miniature Christmas town display laid over the fireplace mantle, to the smells of home baked goodies and burning scented candles that filled the air, to the warmth and the mesmerizing sounds of the fireplace; our environment was perfectly prepared and every detail turned our home into a magical wonderland. Christmas morning was especially exciting as our small family often would line up in the hallway, near enough to the living room to see the shimmer of the gold and silver ribbons and bright colored wrapped presents waiting to be revealed by eager hands. Thinking back now, I can't help but smile as I remember Mom those Christmas mornings; standing there excitedly in her nightgown and warm fuzzy slippers, smile bright and eyes sparkling with the kind of excitement which rivaled that of her children. I still hold firm in my belief that Santa stopped coming to our home because he saw what mom was doing and knew he was outmatched! As I reflect on those beautiful moments of my life, what warms my heart through and through is knowing that mom's joy those mornings always came from the purest place in the human heart. Though she had reason to be excited for the treasure hunts dad would send her on to find her marvelous gifts each year, those mornings filled mom because they meant she could give.
As all of mom's children would attest, mom's love wasn't restricted to her flesh and blood family alone. Each and every one of us had at least one close friend who became an adopted son or daughter because mom would have it no other way. I'll never forget one very special occasion as a teenager when my best friend Bobby and I went to register for the upcoming school year with mom. During registration we noticed that the School's letterman jackets were being displayed and for sale to lettered athletes at the registration desk. I had to have one. While the price was steep for a jobless high school teenager, thoughts of wearing that beautiful leathers sleeved chick magnet drove me on (Luckily, I learned later in life that the ladies didn't think much of guys that thought highly of themselves)! Knowing I was penniless, I came up with a compelling plan to influence mom to get one for me. The perfect selling point entered my mind. I reasoned with mom that this jacket would be "warmer" than the one I already had. Of course mom saw right through the ruse, but thankfully, she agreed all the same.
So wrapped up in thoughts of looking cool and impressing girls, I didn't notice the longing in my friend’s eyes nor did I notice what mom was doing at the checkout table. I have never forgotten what mom did next; she walked towards Bobby and I, not with one but two Letterman jackets. It is a shining moment in my memories; sensitive and caring as always, she handed one jacket to me and the other to Bobby. Overwhelmed with the kindness and caring shown him, Bobby threw mom in a tight embrace and sincerely thanked her by saying lovingly, "Thank you, mom". Mom, much shorter than Bobby but embracing him back just as tightly told him she loved him and that he would look very handsome in his jacket.
I love this time of year and the memories it brings. The other day, while watching " A Christmas Carol" I was reminded again of the beauty of mom's life. A stingy selfish Ebenezer Scrooge is taken to the future to find what his life's decisions have amounted to. Full of regret and sorrow, he looks at a lonely grave noticing that no mourners are present to honor or pay respects to the one who is there. Oh the sadness and I feel for Scrooge as he realized it was he in that grave. Neither friends nor loved ones to mourn him because he had loved no one. In such sharp contrast to that scene, I thought of the Mom's funeral- scores of loved ones, both friends and family , shared with us their respect and love for a life that was so dear to them. I saw it their tears, heard it in their words, and felt it in their embraces; mom's love is eternally written in the hearts of many. May I share one wonderful tribute so eloquently spoken at her funeral, "They loved her because she loved them first!"
Even in her passing, I'm just beginning to discover the gifts she still is giving us. The gift of self-reflecting, the gift of starting anew and resolving to love and give more, the gift of example and of creating a legacy of love. Mom, words cannot express what your giving has done to me.
I love you, Mom! Rich
I love you, Mom! Rich