There have been so many profound stories to share from the last several weeks at work. It has been very tiring as the holidays have approached, as well. There is so much beauty in this world - wonderful children, good poetry, dear friends, rock music and the sweet anger release of a well strung together litany of curse words. Even with all this though, it's a tough time of the year. From my birthday in October through New Year's day, the progression of special days that trumpet ever more loudly my mother's absence in my ears. We all have something, right.
There's Edith, who at 83 lost her youngest son, husband and home in the last year. Her son died unexpectedly, meanwhile her husband who she was the primary caretaker for, took a turn for the worse and died six months later. Edith and her husband had the first floor in her two family, and her son and daughter-in-law had the second floor. With both men gone, the decision was made by the remaining children that it would be for the best to sell the house - after all, it was too much house for two older women. Edith lives in a three room apartment now in a nice part of town, but she doesn't know any of her neighbors. They're all so busy. We sat for a while and talked about her husband, her son, her grandchildren, how hard it is to cook for one person, what life was like when she was a nurse and in charge of the medical unit at the airport. She talked about how hard it is at the grocery store, and I suggested that they could deliver for her - or maybe one of those children or grandchildren could go with her, walk arm in arm and listen to her wonderful stories while they carried her milk. She patted my hair when she left.
There's Russell, not my Russell, but I told him he had the same name as my husband, and he got a kick out of that. Three months ago he came into my office and was unsteady on his pins. He almost fell over, but somehow I kept him off the floor and we've been friends since then. He came in recently to find out how fast I could make a very large check clear. It turns out he doesn't have much time left here on this planet, and he wants to make sure he can give it to his girlfriend. I was like, Russell, you didn't tell me you were that sick? How well do you know this woman? He laughed me off and said they'd been together for 25 years. This check was the least he could do for her considering all the shit he puts her through. He said goodbye and shook my hand like it was the last time we would see each other.
There's Gary who stopped by to go over some recent transactions. Then he asked me if I had my holiday shopping done, and when I said not quite yet, produced six watch and pen sets from a bag he had at his feet. They were $45 a piece, but I could have two for $80 or three for $90 and how many sets would I like. That was fun to delicately extricate myself from. There's Georgia that wants to adopt me, and/or introduce me to nice young man she knows. I'm happily married Georgia, I always say. He's got a really good job, she says with a smile. Oh Georgia, I say - you are too much. Then we laugh, and I smile until I can get her the fuck out of my office. There's so many stories and so little time to give them all the justice they deserve.
Tonight, we'll sit in our living room and read the story of Jesus' birth to the children, just as my mother did every single Christmas Eve when we were children. My sister is with us for the first time in a very long time. She's making block towers with the baby while I write this. We'll keep trying to get the 18 year old cat to stop eating the artificial tree. We'll hang our stockings later after everyone showers and puts on beddy-bye clothes. And after I kiss them goodnight, after my sister goes to bed and my husband goes to sleep, I will touch my mother's tiny urn on my dresser and wish her a Merry Christmas.