Oh Mom. I knew it was your last Christmas with us. In the uncanny way I have of knowing when people are going to die, I knew this was it. And I was going to cherish every moment with you.
On Christmas Eve, I made a tourtiere (a French-Canadian meat pie) for you and Dad. In truth, I made it for you; again, because I knew it would be the last Christmas Eve we spent together. You didn’t eat much, but you were impressed at how delicious it was. It has since become the one I make only for special occasions.
After dinner, you and Dad and Kevin and I put a fire on and watched Elf. It was a novel choice, given we’d always watched It’s a Wonderful Life. I felt IAWL was too maudlin this time around, that its oversentimentality might fail us. So I chose Elf. I knew you would love the child-like character Buddy, and although you didn’t have much energy, you laughed and enjoyed it.
I don’t think you noticed the sideways glances between Kevin and me. We knew you were fading; I think Dad was simply hopeful that you’d somehow get better, but at any rate, you were a champ. You let us put fuzzy reindeer antlers on you when you fell asleep; we have pictures. You were so gosh-darned cute.
Christmas Day, we drove to your granddaughter’s house. She cooked a turkey, and we all balanced plates and drinks and ate too much. Except for you. I’m not sure you ate anything, but you took in all the family goodness and love surrounding you. You looked beatific; your body was pulling together everything it could to enjoy the day, and your smile was pure bliss.
In pictures, we have you doing jazz hands with the rest of us; you are smiling but you appear to be almost asleep.
We opened our Christmas gifts, and I was thrilled with brother John’s gift to me: an oversized, hardcover coffee table book called: PUNK: The Brutal Truth (1). A punk rock coffee table book shows how old we are—who would have considered such a thing during the 70s and 80s?
And here’s where things became more than a little surreal. I doubt you remembered, but wow… cognizant that we’re both attempting to hold these near-death moments tight in our hearts, you put your fingertips on the book cover and ask, “Oh! The Brutal Truth. Who’s that band, who are those guys in the picture?”
Of course, I explained.
“Mom, those are the Sex Pistols. That’s Sid Vicious right there. Remember our cat, Sid Vicious? That’s who he was named after, right?”
You looked at me as if you were reaching back decades to remember, which, I suppose, you were. “Oh yes,” you said. “Sid. He was beautiful!”
I knew you meant our ginger cat, not the lanky fellow who died at the Chelsea Hotel.
Together, we flipped through the pages, talking about the Ramones and the Clash. I pointed out pictures of Billy Idol, Johnny Rotten, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. I sang a few bars of Blitzkrieg Bop; you recognized it and smiled…and bopped your chin a couple of times. Now those opening notes are played at sports arenas worldwide. We talked about the photo of the Clash on the back cover, and I pointed out who I thought was the handsomest of the band. I'm sure you'd recognize some of their songs--I played them all the time at home.
“Remember how I used to dress?” I asked you.
“Funny,” you replied.
And my god, I thought my heart was going to burst with love for you. Here you were, as it would turn out less than three weeks before you were to die, and you were asking me about the Sex Pistols. In that, you saw me—you saw the real me. You were curious—about me.
We spent so much of our lives not really knowing each other, you decidedly not engaged in my lifestyle and interests, and here you were at 87…reminiscing about punk rock.
There are so many reasons I fell in love with who you were before you died, Mom, but this is at the top of the list I’ll never forget. It’s like, with death approaching, you discovered an opportunity to ask all the questions, to hug all the hugs, to absorb the love that was around you. You knew. And you knew it wasn’t too late.
Sid’s long gone, and now, so are you. Wherever you are, I hope you ran into Sid Vicious again, and gave him a little pat on the head. Our ginger cat, Mom. Not the Sex Pistol.
Love and punk rocks!
Your funny-dressing daughter
(1) PUNK: The Brutal Truth – Flame Tree Publishing Ltd, London, 2012.
About the Creator
I live with a broken brain and PTSD--but that doesn't stop me! I'm an author, artist, and qualified mediator who loves life's detours.
I co-authored NOT CANCELLED: Canadian Kindness in the Face of COVID-19. I also publish horror stories.
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