Many years ago, I hadn’t seen my mother for over two years. She had sent letters explaining how she was dealing with hardships in her life. She wrote how much she was screwed over by those she had trusted. She wrote how she missed us kids so dearly. She worked very hard to make a life and things hadn’t gone as planed (much like life has been for many). She came on a Greyhound Bus that had no heating, with a small bag of clothes and she came to surprise all of us kids. She came in that day and surprised us all. Sadly she had got the flu from the trip. Pale and sick, vomiting, coughing, and wheezing she tried to enjoy Christmas with us, her children.
After breakfast, and watching us tear open our presents. She had not a penny to give. She had no presents to offer, but she had given everything to make the trip across states to see us all. She suffered so much that day, but the gift she finally told us.
“I am sorry I don’t have anything to give. I wish I did. But the only gift I bring is myself. I will be moving here, so I can be closer to you all.”
The truth of it sank in and it was a little miracle to me. I had missed her, and thought that would be the greatest gift I had ever received. What I hadn’t known as a child, but found out later that after that Christmas, she spent days at the homeless shelter working hard to find a job. She finally had a small hand up from the YWCA and finally had a promising position working as a secretary. She worked harder, still didn’t see us that much. Maybe every couple weeks as a visit for an hour or two. She worked harder till she finally had enough for a place of her own. When this occurred she was so happy, even though she could barely afford food beyond Ramen Noodles.
She promised she would continue to work hard so that those of us who wanted to, could finally come live with her. She promised that when we came to stay, that we could go to school nearby. And she wanted to pick us up everyday from school. That she would work to provide for her children the best she could. But then the reality of things came crashing in. She would never see another Christmas. She died in a car accident that took her life before she could fulfill her promises, and she was never able to make the life she had wanted.
Despite all her suffering, pain and anguish of her life. Despite the fact that she had got the flu on a bus that had no heat, just to see us. Despite the afterward. Her Christmas gift remains the best gift I have ever received. No gift can equal the idea that those you love can be there. So, never take for granted that gift. Because one day, that gift may not be there, to watch you open trivial presents. Or to offer you unconditional love. Or to simply be there. Merry Christmas mother. I will never forget your special gift.