Our road trip to see Mom and Dad took about 8 hours, and we usually made the trip over a weekend, between work weeks. Sometimes, we stayed longer…Christmas, for instance. A longer visit, we learned, can shed a harsh and truthful light, exposing hidden things.
We realized that Mom and Dad could pull it together, put on a good front, cover for one another, and make things seem fairly normal for a day or two. If the visit was any longer, it was too hard to keep up the charade, and things started unraveling around the edges. This was hard work, and they must have been worn to a frazzle by the time we left. We were for sure.
It was just two days before Christmas when Dad and I sat on the porch rockers, listening to Christmas music. His words had deserted him by that time, but we didn’t need them. We enjoyed the cool, crisp air of a Texas December, held hands and listened to the good news of a baby born in a manger. We didn’t know he would be gone just a few days later. It was a sweet and precious time, and I’ll never forget it.
Family members who remember very little from the past, sometimes find that memories are stirred at Christmastime as they celebrate family traditions. They are often the very ones who started the traditions we celebrate today. Even though they appear to have no memories or connections to the past, we don’t know what may be stirring in their minds as they listen to Christmas music, hear the sounds of laughter as children open gifts, and get a taste of those holiday recipes.