Favorite Christmas Memories? This year is a different year for me in regard to that thought as it will be the first Christmas I will experience without either of my parents. My father passed in 2011 and my mother passed this year on September 14. The attached picture popped up on my facebook memories this week, it is Alex and my mom (Jeannie). It is from December 15, 2018. My mom had a stroke in November of that year and she was in a rehab facility close to our home. She was wanting to get her hair done because “she looked like a mess” (as she would say). So we coordinated everything and she had her hair colored and cut, she was happy about that. This would be the last time she would have her hair done actually, so this picture has now become a fond memory of the events of that day. She received an early Alzheimers diagnosis and began a rapid decline during the next 9 months until she passed away.
Am I still sad? Of course, I will always miss my mom and my dad until it’s my time to depart this life. But the interesting aspect of a life passing that was so close to me, is that I not only think of particular memories, I feel as if the most fantastic book I’ve ever read has come to an end. The final page completed, that last paragraph read. It’s like that moment of great emotion where you reflect back on the story as a whole and think “What a great story!”.
So this Christmas I find myself not just thinking about particular memories of my mother or father, there are many, but their entire summary of their lives. Death has an interesting way of summarizing who we were, our legacy. Like two characters from a book I marvel at their lives, their choices to love and give unconditionally. Their sacrifices, the perseverance to overcome obstacles and challenges, their faith, their hope and support of their children and grandchildren. In some ways there is sadness that such a great book is over, no more to read, no next chapter to turn to follow the main characters, but it caused something to click inside me when I realized the full body of work in their lives from beginning to end. Oh I had some awareness from the moments and memories, the “chapters” of the story as they unfolded, but to realize the full body of work of lives well-lived, I’m in awe. I have that feeling of having read a great book, “What a story! What a book!”, but in a grander, deeper way.
It impacts me even more because I’m in the middle of my story (I hope it’s only the middle), and I’m part of the lives of two boys in my house, ages 8 (Alex) and 14 (Andrew), who are at the beginning of theirs. I have a wonderful wife, Angie, writing her own story, and all our stories intertwine. I’m reminded by looking back at the life of my mother and father to look forward at the lives of my boys, in the lives of myself and Angie. We have the chance to continue to summarize and write our stories, and lend a whole lot of ink to our childrens. I have the chance to continue to build a legacy of unconditional love, to give, to hopefully pass along all of the things of value that were given to me. To pass along the knowledge that our books are more than mere stories that will end one day, they are filled with purpose from the Author of all things. That the incredible opportunity of having a great story, comes from the Greatest Story of All, that Christ came that we might have life more abundantly. And that once this story ends, we can begin a new one … without end. John