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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: It’s Christmas Day (in the present or living memory) (11/27/08)

TITLE: Christmas Day 2004
By Marijo Phelps


Nine degrees, blustering north winds and me, on a scaffold helping Mick with log siding. Not only was I skittish about heights, but I was trying to fix Christmas dinner and keep track of Mom.

The log cabin was about 8 weeks away from being ready to move in. We had three folding tables and some chairs set up. The plumbing was working and so were we. That’s part of the “blood, sweat and tears” equity you get when married to the builder.

“Honey, can you see Mom in the window?” I asked shifting the 16 footer up to get a better grip.
“Oh, oh, I don’t see her there anymore. You need to go and check on her?”

“Hold everything and I will be right back.”

I got off the platform, down the ladder, into the garage and though the house to the master bedroom. There was all the Christmas food, microwave, gifts in packages and empty chairs, but no Mom.

“Mom, where are you?” I nervously called out.

I found her in the living room gripping two plastic bags, “These are mine and nobody can have them”, was her terse reply.

“Well, let me see what you have, Mom let’s put these towels back in the kitchen. What else do you have? Ahh, tangerines, you know I’d give you anything I have but citrus always totally upsets your tummy. Hey, look what I found, your Christmas presents!” I deftly exchanged her bags for ones containing her little gifts.

“Let’s go back to the window so you can watch us do a few more pieces of siding, then we can eat.” I said as I steered her back to the bedroom.
She was amazed by the color in the paper and ribbons on her gifts, not to mention the chocolate. hoped that would keep her occupied for a few minutes.

Grabbing my jacket, gloves and hat I hurried back outside to the scaffold, Mick and the log siding. It was gorgeous with the mountains, evergreens and snow frosted landscaping. It would have been even beautiful in front of the fireplace inside.

“Hon, we just have about 3 more pieces and then I can get the rest myself,” said Mick seeing my concern about Mom and the scaffolding I was climbing.

“OK, there she is,” I waved to my aging Mom who was really no longer my Mom since dementia had claimed her.

We placed another large piece of the log siding and used the nail gun. I looked down again to see an empty chair.

“Honey, she’d gone again, be right back!”

I went into the house, hoping everything was ok with Mom.

“Mom, where are you?” I rushed through the laundry, kitchen, hallway, living room and no Mom. Then I heard noise coming from the bathroom. I knocked on the yet handle less door.

“Yes?” said the small voice inside.
“Mom, are you ok?” I went in despite years of giving her privacy.

She was wetting toilet paper in the toilet bowl and washing herself all over.

“Ah, Mom, let’s go over here to the sink and get you washed up,” I said while flushing the toilet.

“Why, I do this all the time, what’s the matter with you?” was her indignant reply.

I got her washed as best I could and decided maybe it was time to have turkey and open gifts.

Mick must have come to the same conclusion as he was just coming in from the unforgiving weather, to the warm house when we got to the kitchen.

The dinner that I had cooked at 6:00 AM in the other house over 60 miles away was well worth the packing and driving. It was delicious.

The gifts were nothing really, but to see Mom’s eyes light up as she tore open little bag after little bag of chocolate and cookies, was so worth the effort.

We found out not too much later that she took the precious Christmas chocolate and hid it between her mattress and box spring and then announced to all that someone stole her gifts.

This was one of the most unusual Christmas Days we had ever spent as a family.It was definitely a memorable celebration. This was the last Christmas Mom had with us before she went to be with her Jesus.

I marveled at what must have been going through her head that day. I praise God that she is now safely with Him.

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This article has been read 607 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 12/05/08
You have a way of putting the reader right in the scene.

You might want to clarify earlier that the Mom has dementia. Once that was clarified about halfway through, I had to go back and re-read, and some of it made much more sense then.

Well-written and compelling.
Catrina Bradley 12/08/08
Maybe because I spent a few years working with the elderly, but I caught on right away that mom had dementia. Great descriptions and a good story.
Leah Nichols 12/09/08
Well done! I, too, have worked with dementia patients and understood the reference from the start. Maybe we nursy types just have a worldview unique to ourselves!
Dee Yoder 12/10/08
Yes, I think those of us who have relatives with dementia or who work with those who do had no trouble getting that clue right from the start. Your descriptions of the way a person behaves with this disease is on the mark. I could clearly see the images you projected in your story.
Teresa Lee Rainey12/10/08
You really did draw me into this story. Appreciated how carefully the daughter handles her mom's illness with such understanding and love. With my husband working in hospitals and nursing homes, I understood right away that Mom was suffering from something.