The last thing I said in my last post was: “NEXT!” Well, what follows is what came “NEXT!”
One of life’s great truths is that the most precious gifts are the ones that are
least expected. I received one of those gifts this week. In fact, I received a
couple of precious gifts this week. The first was a roundtrip plane ticket to
see my mother in Utah. It was a gift from two of her caregivers, and was a gift
for both of us. The second and most precious gift was the one which was
presented to me on my arrival.
As we sat down to breakfast the first morning there, Mom’s primary caregiver, Gracie said, “Georgie, you mommy is having her annual Christmas Tea on Wednesday and she wants you to be there.”
“Well of course I’ll be there. Why wouldn’t I?”
“Georgie … you mommy wants you, Georgia to be there.”
It took a few minutes for that to soak in. You see, Mom had managed to adjust her thinking to accept me, Georgia in her home when it was just the two of us or us and my sister and me, or some of the caregivers, but that was it. I had never been to church with her or to any of her social affairs. It had always been “George” who accompanied her to those. At ninety-four years old I just never wanted to place her in a position
of having to explain me to her friends. So when Gracie said, “you mommy wants
you, Georgia, to be there.” I was overwhelmed.
At first, all I could say was, “What?” Gracie repeated her statement and Mom nodded her agreement. I asked, “Are you sure?” This time they both affirmed that it was indeed me that they wanted to attend the Tea and not George. I had two days to adjust to this new way of being with Mom. As the time drew nearer a certain nervousness about it began to grow. The people expected to show up were, for the most part, from
Mom’s church and women who had known George years ago, in one case since 1954.
I just didn’t know what to expect. Would they be indignant, distant, unfriendly, or would they accept me? Gracie explained that they all knew about “Dear Mom and Dad” because Mom had given a copy to the church library. “Don’t worry Georgie” Gracie said. But I did.
The day of the Tea arrived and I spent the morning helping Gracie make the final preparations before I stopped to get myself ready. I wanted to look and be acceptable to these all important people in my mother’s life.
When the first wave of white hair and walkers arrived I greeted them at the door … and they practically ignored me. That was not a good start. Then the second wave arrived and it was more of the same. Just as I was beginning to think this was a really bad idea one of them, wearing a huge smile, approached me said, “Oh my, I didn’t realize who you are. I would have never known.” With that hole punched in the dam I was flooded with comments and exclamations of admiration that nearly overwhelmed
me. These were women who had taught me in Sunday school and sat next to my
family for over fifty years. Frankly, they were women whose reactions I’d
expected to be politely warm at best. But as the afternoon progressed I found
myself the recipient of affection and praise. Almost every one of them wanted a copy of “Dear Mom and Dad,” and one of the women, who is my mother’s former neighbor and closest friend left with Mom’s own copy and a promise to return it at church on Sunday.
My last night there Mom, nearly in tears, said, “I don’t have anything for you for Christmas. What can I get you?”
“Mom, you have already given me the most valuable and precious gift imaginable. You introduced me to your friends and they in turn enhanced the gift with their genuine and loving acceptance of who I am. I couldn’t want a greater gift than that.”