It’s you I remember every time I see a floral-patterned or plaid jumper. It’s you I remember every time I watch a Roy Rogers movie or listen to him sing. It’s you I remember every time I make a cup of tea. It’s you I remember every time I see a squirrel or woodpecker. It’s you I see, you I feel, you I hear. Everywhere I go, everything I do, you’re always with me. Sometimes you make me laugh, sometimes you make me cry, always you make me miss you. This world is full of memories of you and the too-short time we shared.
I can’t believe it has been a whole year since you had to leave. And though you were gone far too soon, I was so incredibly blessed to have you in my life. There are no words to describe the wonderful gift you gave us all. The gift of your love. It has made me into the person I am today. I only hope I can prove myself worthy of your gift by passing it on to others. No matter how much time passes, you will forever be a shining example of womanhood. An example I can only aspire to emulate. I know I still disappoint you sometimes, but you know that I’m trying.
I know you are watching and I know you miss us as much as we miss you and I know that we will be together again. It’s tough, you know, waiting for that day. Sometimes I feel guilty for enjoying myself, sometimes I can’t truly have fun because thoughts of you are crowding the back of my mind. You cross my mind every time I do something you would scold me for like eating candy or getting angry. I think of you every time I do something that I know you would have enjoyed. Just know that I miss you and I love you and I’m trying to make you proud. I love you so much, Mama.
So tomorrow is Christmas. Another year gone. Seems hard to believe. This year has had many “first without Mama” occasions but tomorrow is the biggest. I never had a Christmas morning without her before. Or a Christmas Eve. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it. Was it really only 12 months ago that I gave her the beautiful red coat she never wore? I still can’t look at it without a rush of emotion to blur my vision. Tomorrow I will unwrap presents “From Daddy” only and not from both. This is hard – too hard for me to handle on my own.
At the same time, there is a beauty to this holiday that I never saw before. If it weren’t for Christmas and the birth of a Saviour King, there would be no hope of heaven and no promise of seeing my mother again. Some may argue the validity of December 25th as the birthday of our King, but it makes no difference to me. The actual date is not the point. The point is the promise of salvation that Jesus brought to that stable so many years ago. This is the hope I cling to when the pain is more than I can bear. This is the hope of Christmas Eve.
And the memories of many beautiful Christmases and Christmas Eves spent with my mother make this holiday and season so incredibly special. Memories of stockings hung on the mantel. Of presents so beautifully wrapped and tied with ribbons. Of Christmas Eve hot chocolate and cookies. Of shaking the various packages and trying to guess their contents. Of tumbling out of bed at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning. Of having “snowball” fights with crumpled-up wrapping paper. Of retiring to a quiet corner with one of my new books and my box of animal crackers to while away the afternoon.
So let the theologians wrangle over the petty details of Christmas. I will continue to hold onto the hope of Christmas Eve and the beauty of Christmas Day, keeping both my mother and my Saviour alive in my heart.
It is a beautiful thing to rediscover something that you once loved but had since almost forgotten. When I was a kid, we had a swimming pool in the back yard. Nothing fancy, just one of those vinyl above-ground affairs. For this kid, it was heaven on earth. I love being in the water. That pool is where my Daddy taught me how to swim. I was really little and never got very good, but it was so much fun. Mama didn’t swim and we were too small to be in the pool by ourselves. So we waited eagerly for Daddy to get home from work every day all summer long.
One of my earliest memories is of him standing in the middle of the pool trying to talk me into jumping in so he could catch me. And I remember these awesome orange floats that went on my arms. They were so cool. I’d swim around until I got tired then I’d float with just my head and shoulders out of the water. I never did get tall enough to touch the bottom before we moved into town. Saddest day of my young life when we had to leave that pool behind. And our city yards had no room for even a small one.
I hadn’t been in a pool since – other than one afternoon at a friend’s house a few years ago. I realized then that I was a little bit rusty and spent most of the time in the shallow end. So a couple weeks ago I bought a swimsuit and signed up for swimming lessons. Buying the suit was an adventure in and of itself. I had no idea how hard it would be to find a relatively modest swimsuit. The next adventure was the lessons themselves. I had so much fun. The lady who taught the class was phenomenal. Good at explaining things while making it fun at the same time. The class was actually intended for first-time swimmers, so it covered the basics. Which was perfect. I could swim already, but like I said, never very good. And even that was 20 years ago. The lessons gave me a solid grounding in proper technique.
Someday I dream of having a place in the country where I can put an uber-cool in-ground swimming pool in the back yard. Complete with waterfall and slide. The kind that costs more money than I should spend on something non-essential. I wouldn’t mind living in a tiny little house for a time if that’s what it would take to pay for the pool. Impractical? Probably. Loads of fun? Oh yeah. And absolutely awesome for raising kids. I’m a firm believer in the work hard, play hard philosophy and that’s how I want to raise my kids. There are many things I want them to learn, and how to have fun is one of the big ones. Real fun – good, old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness, outdoor play. I want to give them the same beautiful childhood my parents gave me. And a swimming pool is a big part of that.