Alan often tells me that when he's gone, I'll miss all of the little irritating things he does that make me roll my eyes. Cabinets left open...tennis shoes plopped down on the kitchen counter when I'm cooking...using my plastic measuring cups to measure Miracle Grow in one of my plastic tea pitchers. I could go on and on. I mean, we've lived together for forty-one years. It's to be expected.
Now, my mom is gone. Here is one of the most irritating Christmas "traditions" that I miss the absolute most: the hat.
It was adorable the first year/first time she wore it to a family gathering. She thought it was the very best Santa hat on the planet. Each person was given an individual performance, sometimes several performances. "Feliz-blah-blah-blah" echoed through the house. That hat became an actual senior tracking device. "Where's Meems?" "Wait! Everyone be quiet and listen!" "Feliz-blah-blah-blah!" "Follow that sound! Where you find the hat, you will find Meems!"
When she moved to Lubbock, I thought that we'd be able to toss the hat into the estate sale pile of Christmas excess. Nope. "I love that hat!," she said plopping it on her head. It took her a minute and several pokes on the hat for her to find the "on" button. Sure enough, right there in the pink bedroom on Rockview in the blazing heat of August came the sound of Jose Feliciano's voice accompanied by a bouncing jingle bell. At the end of the song she'd grin and say "Cha-cha-cha!" with a little wiggle on her shoulders. Sadly, in the video above, there is no trademark cha-cha-cha. Sigh.
The last time she was aware of the hat and the joy it brought to her was probably June of 2017 during a time when she desperately needed a little Christmas.
I couldn't have imagined that I would feel such deep sadness this first Christmas without her. The first Christmas after my sister passed away was rugged to say the least. Kathy was a young mother when leukemia took her from us. Mom had lived a long, wonderful life. In fact, I thought that she might outlive her body that shrivelled away bit by bit on a daily basis. Now that I can no longer wrap my arms around her tiny frame, I feel a deep, deep longing in my heart. I miss her terribly.
The Feliz Blah-Blah-Blah hat is perched in a closet upstairs. It no longer works. The bell will sometimes flail wildly about, but Jose Feliciano stopped singing a couple of years ago. While I was pulling out Christmas decorations, I saw it sitting alone on the top shelf. There was something so personal about it - like her gold-framed bifocals or her powder blue house shoes or her bottle of Chanel Number Five - I just couldn't... I could not reach up there. Seeing that animated hat was just more than my tender heart could bear this Christmas. So, it waits upstairs for Christmas Yet to Come.
There is one thing that I created that has brought me the warmth and comfort I need right now. It's the Mimi Tree in the downstairs guestroom where the lamps from her living room now hold court. It's decorated with her ornaments. The magnolia bouquets graced the stately mirror and sconces in her living room. It is one of the most beautiful trees I've ever seen because it is "her."
The Mimi Tree
We're also missing Mom's BFF, Leonard. Since 2011, he has said the blessing at our Christmas Eve table and joined us on Christmas morning for gingerbread pancakes. He was like a father to me. He was Alan's best friend.
My prayer is that you and I will be comforted in the tearful moments that may come in the next few days. We'll cry because we loved so deeply. Loving deeply is what life is all about.
Merry Christmas, friend. My heart is with yours. Cha-cha-cha.