During my first, oh, I'd say thirty-six years of life, I spent just one Christmas away from my home state of Michigan.
It was Christmas 1984. I was a junior in college, spending the year at the University of York in northern England. My older sister, Kate, met me in Luxembourg, and we spent the holidays touring Europe. I think the grand tour started out as Europe on $25 a Day and eventually descended to Europe for $7.22 a Day. Back then, you really could find a room (or at least a bed) for about two bucks a night. You didn't really want to shower on site, and you might have considered heading to the train station to use the coin operated potties. But you could do Europe on the cheap. And we did.
Christmas day found us in Paris. On Christmas afternoon we meandered over to the Eiffel Tower. If memory serves, we couldn't afford the elevator ride to the top, so we climbed the stairs as high as we could go. It was then that we came up with the crazy idea of calling Mom from a pay phone. We pooled our change, fed it into the slot, and dialed.
We got through!
"Get Mom," we yelled to whoever answered. We had enough time to yell Merry Christmas as the change cha-chinged through at a rapid rate. The phone went dead.
My parents had sent two wonderful gifts: a badly needed infusion of cash and a red sweater my mom had knitted. Mom was quite the knitter when I was little. Sometime I'll wade through old pictures to find a shot of the three Regan girls dressed in matching knit -- yes, knit -- pants suits at Christmas. I can't imagine the time and money that went into those numbers.
Mom probably hadn't picked up knitting needles in fifteen years before she tackled my sweater. I'm fairly certain it was her last knitting project as well.
Today I'm donning my red sweater in honor of my mom who took a bad fall two nights ago and broke her femur. Mom has osteoporosis, among other ailments. She's broken at least a bone a year for the past four or so years. Her prognosis is not good, and the outcome isn't so rosy for her primary caregiver, my dear, devoted father. My parents had just arrived in Florida for a four month stay -- were, in fact, going up the stairs upon their arrival -- when the fall occurred. My Facebook wall is now flooded with friends who are praying for the entire situation. Thank you so, so much!
As for me, I need wisdom -- wisdom about when to fly down, how best to assist both Mom and Dad, where Mom should go both short term and long term.
My folks breezed into town last Saturday for a brief visit. I called my sister and told her how well Mom was looking. She was walking better than she had in two years. Ironically, I had the thought that we should buy her some knitting needles to see if she was up for trying her hand at her old hobby.
And with months of rehab ahead of her, maybe that's a good idea.