Last Christmas was my Mother’s last Christmas, but this is a story of joy and not sorrow. My Mother lived her life in the moment better than anyone I have ever known. When she was diagnosed with Stage four, lung cancer that had spread to her brain the doctors told her they needed to do surgery on her brain within the next couple days. My Mother told them that she was sorry but that would have to wait a couple weeks, she had a golf outing that weekend, and she was being featured by showing more than thirty pieces of her work at a quilt show the following weekend. So with some persuasion the doctors waited and she played golf that weekend, and won many blue ribbons for her work the following weekend. But this story takes place fifteen months later on Christmas Day of last year.
Christmas fell on a Sunday last year and by this time Mom had been in the hospital’s Hospice unit for a few weeks. Her energy was failing and the tumors in her brain were having an effect on her as well. I went to church that morning with a heavy heart knowing that Mom would be spending her final Christmas in a hospital and not at home. She had broken her hip about ten days before and surgery was not an option because of the advanced progression of the cancer, so the only way to ease her pain was for her to be where she was. No one was happy; there were no celebrations planned, no decorations out, and no family dinner to be shared. After church our small family of myself, my two sons and my younger son’s longtime girlfriend met at the hospital to exchange our gifts and celebrate with Mom in the best fashion we could muster. We had gifts for her and thanks to early online shopping she had gifts for us as well.
We were all putting on a brave face as Mom opened her gifts but Mom was living in the moment and there were presents to be opened and she tore paper and ribbons off with the excitement of a six year old. We had gotten her a portable CD player and a CD by Andrea Bocelli. The headphones were the large softly padded noise cancelling type and we helped her get them on and put the CD in the player and after some fussing we managed to push play. Well the volume on the headphones and player had been set as loud as it could go, and Mom loved loud music! So as we were all in a panic trying to turn the volume down Mom was having a grand time waving her arms conductor style to the rhythm of the orchestra that we could all hear quite clearly, and for that moment the music transported her to someplace else, someplace where she wasn’t in pain, someplace where death was not near, someplace where she could smile for all of us to see. I looked at Mom in that moment and was happier for her and her gift than any person could ever be. It was not our gift of music to her that filled the room with joy; it was her gift of showing us how to live in the moment that was indeed pure joy!
My wish for all of you this Christmas is to live in the moment you are in, not in past regrets, or in future worries, but just the very moment that God has given you, and I hope that in living in God given moments you have, that you find JOY! Because it is in God, that there is joy to be had for all of us.