Autumn

Autumn

Monday, December 24, 2012

Her Last Gift

It was a very small Christmas tree and sat atop an old RCA radio cabinet, one of the fine polished oak models built prior to the war. The radio gave forth Bach. My mother stepped back after she so gently adjusted its volume. She loved Bach. Christmas and Bach she held, were like cream and sugar with afternoon tea.

It was to be our last Christmas together, a fact of which we were both aware.

My mother was so very poor.

The four of us had gathered in the small room and took seats where possible. I remember my brother and sister sat either side of my mother, a small woman of delicate lines with waste length dark brown hair and high fine cheek bones which reflected her American Indian ancestry. Her eyes dark enough to reflect sunlight under still waters. She was beautiful in both soul and outward appearance.



She remained very still had held both my sister and brother's hands and bowed her head. We respected the silence as she cried then composed her thoughts.

I was the older child. Four and five years between myself and my brother and sister. My next step into life would, as a result, take me forever from her home. There was a war. I had taken the oath. We together held fear in our hearts. Life isn't easy.

She began to pray, her voice soft and sincere. Her message to our Father has been lost to the shadows of time but is still recorded in my soul. A simple prayer of love for the season and a gentle request of protection.

As she prayed I remember the warmth of her old oil heater. The flames within so often a comfort to me under the roof of her simple and cleanly organized home built with the few dollars she'd earned from long hard hours at the local hospital. 

She said, "Amen."

Then, she rose and took two of three gifts from beneath the tree and placed them in my brother and sister's hands. I watched as they quickly unwrapped their presents. I remember neither. They both smiled as we'd each discussed and agreed prior to this day. They gave thanks and prised her for such wonderful and thoughtful Christmas gifts. 

She bent and placed her hands on either side of their faces and gently kissed their foreheads. I waited.

My mother then returned and took the one remaining gift and reached and took my hand in hers. "I'm sorry," she said, "But its all I could afford but the name on the bottle reminded me of you. It seems to describe you so very well."

It was a bottle of cologne. Trouble, by Mennen. I smiled.


 I rose and took her into my arms. This small beautiful woman so full of grace. A woman attracted to books and music and art with a heart of pure gold.

It was her last Christmas gift to me. A gift of poverty, given with love.

I never used the cologne. It has traveled the world with me. It sits on a bookshelf in our home. Its contents have grown dark with age, its cap still silver and untarnished. Its lost very little in volume and when its cap is removed, as it was this morning, it still faintly yields a scent of her.

I lost her to heaven not long afterwards. She was so very young.

Ritualistically each Christmas I walk into my office and take down her last gift to me. I hold it, turn it slowly in my hands and remember.

Stephen 





42 comments:

  1. Hey Trouble...Thanks for sharing that beautiful story.

    Merry Christmas to you and Sweet Wife!

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    1. Thank you, dear lady. Merry Christmas.

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  2. A beautiful story.

    Merry Christmas Stephen. Please pass on my best wishes to your better half.

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    1. Thank you, my kind friend, I shall. And, to you and yours, Merry Christmas.

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  3. Thanks for sharing that, Stephen.

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    1. You are more than welcome. Merry Christmas my good friend.

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  4. What a wonderful memory.

    If I might presume to offer a suggestion, you might think about wearing that cologne each Christmas as a remembrance. Just a thought.

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    1. The bottle is well over forty-two years old, my good friend, and I'm afraid its contents have lost much of its allure. But, thank you very much for the suggestion. God bless and keep you.

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  5. What a lovely story. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Thank you, my dear lady. Merry Christmas.

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  6. Thank you for sharing that piece of your heart. Merry Christmas, sir.

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    1. You are most welcome, my good friend.

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  7. What a touching story. Merry Christmas to you and your Sweet Wife.

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  8. Darn dust in my daughter's home . . . . . what a beautiful memory.

    Merry Christmas Sir and a Happy New Year!!

    Bill

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  9. Your mother left you gifts beyond treasure, which you gracious shared with us today.

    What a beautiful story.

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    1. Thank you, Dear Brigid. Merry Christmas.

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  10. Merry Christmas to you and Sweet Wife. Take it easy, buddy.

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    1. Thank you, Matt. And, a very Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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  11. Stephen,

    Your mother was an amazing woman, God Bless her. Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory of your Mom.
    My family wishes you and Sweet Wife a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

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    1. Thank you, Sweet Sandy. And to you and yours, have a beautiful and Merry Christmas too.

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  12. Merry Christmas to you and your Sweet Wife.

    It is the people that matter. The people who make the day special. Enjoy.

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    1. Amen, Graybeard. Thank you, and have a wonderful and Merry Christmas.

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  13. Stephen, Thank you for sharing such a personal and beautiful story. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Steve

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    1. You're welcome, my friend. Thanks, and may you and yours have a Merry Christmas.

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  14. I'm SO amazed to hear of Christmas's past that weren't strewn to the hilt with tons of presents to be ripped to shreds. Instead, YOUR Christmas had MEMORIES wrapped in love.

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    1. Indeed. Thank you, Joy. Merry Christmas to both of you.

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  15. Merry Christmas Stephen...Such a special and beautiful story..your mother sounds like she was a very special lady...What a blessing to hold such sweet memories!

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    1. Thank you, Dear Lady. Merry Christmas.

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  16. We are all a collection of our memories and experiences, much more than just a random collection of minerals and atoms. Thanks for sharing yours, and have a great Christmas Stephen.

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    1. And to you, my friend. Merry Christmas.

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  17. Thanks Stephen for your wisdom this year. Merry Christmas to you and the Mrs.

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    1. Not sure about the wisdom, but thanks for the nice compliment, Rob. Merry Christmas.

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  18. That made me cry. Merry Christmas.

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    1. I'm sorry, Linda...Merry Christmas to you and yours too.

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  19. An excellent piece of writing, brought tears to my eyes. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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    1. Thank you, my friend and I'm sorry about the tears...Merry Christmas to you too.

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  20. That brought tears... Merry Christmas to you and yours Sir, may you be surrounded by family...

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  21. A lovely story and your mother was such a sweet lady. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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