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The last Christmas

Guest column

DANIEL J. PAUL

“Christmas isn’t the same without my mother’s touch. We honor you by following your traditions, even though you are no longer with us.”

— Author unknown

The scars of life’s journey was embedded on her face. The valleys of wrinkles accompanied the darkened age marks. At times, a deep sadness could be reflected in her eyes. But, how her face would brighten up when family and friends would stop by and visit her in the nursing home. Gone was the sadness in her eyes, and some of those wrinkles seemed to magically disappear.

One of those moments seems frozen in time to me–the last Christmas we spent together. It was a recent tradition that on Christmas Day I would go to the Bishop Noa nursing home dressed as Santa; my mother, along with the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres (who would sing a chorus of Christmas songs), would stroll from room to room, bringing some holiday cheer to the residents.

As we traversed down the hallways, the chorus of singing echoed off the walls and reverberated throughout the nursing home. Accompanying them was my mother in her wheelchair, grinning from ear to ear, armed with a few boxes of candy canes. In each resident’s room that we entered, she would distribute these little treats.

The residents were so exuberant about the treats. This was evidenced by the smiles that just lit up their faces, as possibly reflections of happier times of Christmases past. All of this was accompanied with expressions of happiness, gratitude, and joy. Some thanked us, whereas others could not.

My mother was also engaged in the moment, as her expression of joy was not only reflected on her face but also physically as well. She had demonstrated more energy, and seemed to glow as she distributed the treats to each resident.

On this special occasion, we stopped at a room whose resident was afflicted with multiple sclerosis, or MS, bedridden and could not verbalize. My mother maneuvered her wheelchair to the woman’s bedside, gently touched her hand, and said, “Merry Christmas, I love you. The woman’s tears were her only response, but said everything.

The years have passed since that Christmas morning, but as referenced before, it still remains embedded into my memory. It reminds me that the little things mean a lot, and that it is in giving that we receive. Please make the time to visit family and friends who are in nursing homes, or are spending Christmas alone. I’m sure that is what the Lord would wish us to do.

From the Paul family to all of you, we would like to wish you a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season.

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others.”

— Bob Hope

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Daniel J. Paul is a retired school administrator. His articles focus on education, old-fashioned family values, relationships and other topics. His website is at meaningfuldifferences.net.

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