When I was a little girl we traveled to Pennsylvania every year for Thanksgiving to see my grandparents. One of my favorite moments of every visit was Friday morning when Pappy would come downstairs and start the Christmas music. Then I’d curl up on his lap and we’d rock and sing and celebrate Jesus, and I’d inhale the scent of his aftershave feeling warm and protected and safe and loved.
Yesterday, we drove up to PA again to see my grandparents. I sit now, curled up in a big over-stuffed chair, and the independent living cottage where my grandmother lives is noisy… little Bella chattering with Nanny, my mom busy in the kitchen and talking with Daddy, the boys playing games. It is noisy, yes, but there is no music. I tell myself that perhaps it is because Brian is still sleeping and we don’t want to wake him. But I know the real reason why.
Pappy is across the road in the nursing home. I’m sure there is no music there either.
And I heave deep sighs. Longing for those moments again. His aftershave smell is gone, too, along with a lot of his short-term memory. When we talk together he always asks me, “Do you remember…?”
Oh, I remember, and there are so many wonderful memories. I’m thankful that in the midst of all the forgetting, he has those long-ago memories to make him happy.
When Brian wakes, I will find all Pappy’s cd’s and start playing them. And I will move to the rocking chair and I will close my eyes and I will listen and I will celebrate Jesus just as we did years ago… and I will listen and I will celebrate Pappy and happy memories.
Later today, we will visit Pappy in his tiny room. And when he sees us, it will take a moment for him to figure out who we all are, but eventually he will remember. And then I will sit by his side, and I will sing to him, perhaps he will join in, and it will be my turn to make him feel warm and safe and loved.
And we will make our own Christmas music.
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