A Christmas Story

It’s 3:51am the morning after Christmas. I lay here with my heart pounding and partially out of breath. My right arm is throbbing and my back is still sore. Why am I writing at 3:51am because I’ve noticed it’s best to write while the emotions are fresh. I’m exhausted, tired, alone, and contemplating just going back to sleep and writing just enough to have notes for later. However, ever thing I’ve read has always said, “Greatness comes from being uncomfortable.”

Christmas morning started around 7am on Sunday. My dad woke up to go get Starbucks but the two he tried locally were closed for the holiday. Mom woke up as soon as he came back around 7:20am. It was a nice feeling because she woke up perky and enthusiastic saying, “Let’s do Christmas!” She was implying that she wanted to open the presents under the tree.

Christmas at 27 has turned into bringing joy to my mom as much as possible. I could care less about presents; I just am grateful to have my mom and dad for Christmas. The last two years of holidays have been tough without my grandma Carrie. She used to come and bring so much love and energy to the holidays. We used to play this card game called 31. She used to pester me by saying, “You cheat!” My dad would add, “Yeah he’s a cheater!!” He would be just stroking the fire with her. Urging her on with her own false accusations after I’d win a lot.

She’s missed!

Christmas presents went well this year. My mom had energy early in the morning and got a truckload of Origins products. I mean what do you get someone who lives their life in bed. Her joy comes from smelling good, tasty food, and me.

About 11:30am, Dad and I were prepping dinner to be eaten later. Mom still had about a half a tank of energy but was fading. My dad wanted to make what used to be her most famous dish that she used to make for us before the accident. It was always known as and called, “The Potato Dish!”

My dad was asking my mom the instructions for how to make it but imagine someone taking nearly a minute to express 3 words. He was starting to get perturbed. He suggested (that’s putting it lightly) that she just go lay down. After frustration, he called his mother-in-law, my grandma Doris for the recipe.

We finished prepping dinner after I spent what felt like an hour cutting the ends off the green beans. I found my place in the recliner, my dad on the blue soft and old sofa. My mom in bed in the bedroom. My dad and I flipped back and forth between NBA games and old movies on cable.

5:23pm rolled around and dinner was ready. My mom was knocked out asleep. With the amount of “meds” (that’s how she likes me to refer to them as, as opposed to drugs) she’s on, often she falls asleep randomly. She falls into a deep sleep very quickly. My dad and I tried a few things (didn’t try very hard this time) to wake her up for Christmas dinner. She didn’t budge. After going back to watch television, waiting for her to join us at the dinner table, we decided it was time to eat because like the past we knew it could be hours before she woke up (heck it could be days but that’s for a different chapter).

We ate “the potato dish,” the green beans, meat, and the fruit salad I prepared. It was so good! But it was lonely, just my dad and I. We already have a very small family but these were times that my grandma used to fill that emptiness with. She is missed!

I’ll get back to why I’m writing at 3:51am in a second, frankly I’m tired and rambling because I’m ready to go back to sleep.

45 mins after we finished eating my mom woke up. She didn’t know what day it was. She thought it was the day after Christmas. She thought she was waking up in the middle of the night.

It took awhile and me telling her that it was still Christmas Day. I cut up her meat into small bites and served her dinner in bed with a glass of tea that she demanded. As she was eating, I laid next to her in bed. I was texting friends in my phone a “Merry Christmas” to take my mind off of things and to fill the gap of love.

I kept glancing over at her… I’d ask her, “are you dosing?” This is common for her to fall back asleep while eating and I wanted to make sure she wasn’t. She replied faintly, “No.” I went back to texting.

A few minutes later, I look over and her head is resting on her pillow and I hear a clunking sound. I get up and go over to her bedside. There was her hand in her plate of barely eaten food with her other hand barely grasping hold of her iced tea cup. The cup had hit the head board of the bed and had spilt all over the bed. I quickly grabbed the tea that was still left in the cup and pulled her plate. I had a hand towel under her plate already for precaution. I did my best to clean up the situation but tea was still wet all over the corner of the bed.

She fell back asleep but now my dad was in pain. He was laying on the floor of the living room with his neck jacked up. His neck hurt and he was trying to relieve the pain by tractioning it with a pillow. He couldn’t relieve the pain so he went over to Dr. Wingets’s house and got an adjustment. While he was out, I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, straightened the living room mess of blankets and rearranged the furniture. I took the trash cans out to the curb because the garbage man comes Monday mornings. After emptying and dumping all the trash cans and cleaning the counters, I had a few bites of Talenti gelato and waited for my dad to come home while my mom was dosing back off to sleep.

Long story short, I went to bed around 11pm and woke up around 12am to the sound of my mom struggling in the laundry room next to my room at my parents house. She can be very stubborn. That’s part of what makes her a fighter in her daily fight. I went and pulled the clothes out of the dryer for her and went back to bed.

At 3:43am, my dad came into my room and said, “Come move your mom.” This happens often in the middle of the night. As I walked into their room, her feet were touching the floor, her butt was on the edge of the bed, and her back was laying on the side of the bed with her arms spread out.

I put my right arm under both legs and my left arm on her left shoulder. I tried to position her “dead weight” back to her normal sleeping position on her right side. I got her flat onto her back and was exhausted from the strain it took on my back. I’m a fairly strong man but moving “dead weight” isn’t easy!

I put sheets over her and came back into my bed. I laid here in bed for a few minutes and thought to myself, “I didn’t give my all.” So I went back in there with determination and adrenaline. Jumped in the middle of the bed between my parents, with all my might and thrust I moved her onto her side and put a body pillow between her legs to brace her.

I was beat physically and mentally from the draining day that it was. I looked over on her bed side to a empty bowl of cake she ate, the chocolate was still on her lip, I checked her mouth and saw remnants around the lining of her mouth. I was worried that if she stayed laying on her back that she would have trouble breathing with how her mouth looked. That’s why I went back to reposition her in bed.

It’s 4:54am the morning after Christmas and I’m tired, lonely, and hungry. Thoughts flooding my mind, I thank God for the many blessings in my life. Yes, this isn’t how I’d want things to be but God has a plan. I’m grateful for everyday I have and I’ll never waiver on these three priorities in my life: 1) Faith 2) Family 3) Everything else.

Be grateful, appreciate, and most of all love.

I love you.

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