12 Days of Winter Break: Geese and Swans

I was so busy these past two days, that I didn’t take time to write on this series, so this post will have to do double duty.

Christmas was fantastic, thank you for wondering. My girlfriend, her son, and I went to our church for evening service. Our pastor asked us to lead the lighting of the last Advent candle. I was so proud of my girlfriend’s boy. Even though he was nervous and didn’t want to read in front of everybody, he didn’t hesitate and read in a loud, clear voice. He nailed it.

Gift opening was another joy. I’ve never had children of my own, so I’ve only been playing a Pop-role for two years now. Periodically, I’ll call my dad with a humorous or frustrating tale about dealing with a nine-year-old, and he will laugh and laugh. Well, at Christmastime, I’ve come to realize that opening my gifts, while still fun, is far exceeded by the joy of watching a child open his gifts.

The big gift for the boy was a new iPod Touch to replace his old one. He’s had this iPod for three years now, and even though he takes very good care of it, the screen has grown a large black splotch on it. “Best Christmas ever,” he mumbled, looking at the shiny new screen, and my heart melted. Christmas Day was consumed with getting his new iPod set up and playing with some of the board games my dad sent him. No work on Christmas.

The following day was a no-work day, as well. At two in the morning, I was on the road, heading to Florida. The fourteen hours on the road is bearable with a good Audiobook. I started and finished a good one, Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman.

I arrived, safe and sound, at my Aunt’s house around four o’clock. My cousins and their families were also in town from Texas and Ohio, so for the remainder of the day, we chatted and got caught up.

On the 27th, I went over the assisted living center to see Grandma. She just turned 98 earlier in December. That was bittersweet. Grandma’s eyes sparkled and her smile was a lovely as ever. She was surprised when I walked in the door; we kept my visit a secret. I haven’t been able to visit since last Spring, and Grandma was even smaller than I remembered. She got so tired, so quickly. She nodded off several times as we chatted, so I just sat and held her hands as she dozed. Talking was difficult, because even with her the aids, she can barely hear anymore. I had to put my head against hers and nearly shout for her to hear what I was saying.

The bittersweet continued when I arrived at the rehabilitation facility to visit my uncle. He had suffered a very bad strike early in December. We had more bright eyes and smiles and hugs.  Like with Grandma, talking was difficult. With my uncle, though, it was because he had lost his words. He has just started making sounds when he laughs, which is good progress. Sometimes, he mouth moves like he is trying to say “yes” or “no,” but no sound comes out. He communicated mostly with a nod or a shake of the head. Sometimes, it feels like he is following and comprehending the conversation, other times, he seems dazed and lost.

Those visits, and visiting with the rest of my extended family took the day. It was a wonderful day.

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