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A Caregiver's Night Before Christmas

It is the night before Christmas and the only thing stirring in this cold dark house is the cat and I.

The feeding machine is turned off and the O2 machine is turned on.

The day has been long and the guests are gone, the dishes are washed and put away. The ashtrays are empty and the floor mess has been picked up. The gifts are placed under our well-worn tree. I plopped into my chair, raised my legs and lean back in my chair.

I can hear soft Christmas Music coming for my life's best friend's room. It has been a hard day on her and if I were to peek in her room I would see some little tears in her gleaming eyes.

"White Christmas" is playing, I glance out the window. My heart tells me I'm seeing a soft white snow falling. In my mind pops up a memory if my two sisters; they are giggling and talking so softly, it's 3:30am on a Christmas day. I whisper to them to go back to sleep, Mom and Dad will kill us if we wake them now. It's 3:45 they can wait no longer; with a roar that sounds like of a herd of beasts they charge into Mom and Dad's room. It's safe, now I can get up too.

A new memory pops up: two very young kids very much in love are putting up their first Christmas Tree. They were money poor but so rich in hope as they faced an unknown future. I glanced at the tree and there they hang ornaments from that very first tree so many years ago.

Then I spied an ornament of a bronze colored, wise old owl made by my Mother with loving hands. Many a Christmas I looked at that owl and heard my Mother say. "Do what your heart tells you and you can't go wrong"

I see an ornament of an angel made by son Dan that he made in school when he was six. Hanging there too are ornaments make by my grandson David when he was just six.

My mind drifts back to Terra my daughter when she was two. My family went nuts and under the tree was a load of gifts piled up half way up the tree. Terra's eyes almost popped out of her head. She had a little rubber putt car called Mr. Beep-Beep, a pony called Macaroni and a complete drum set from my little sister Sandy. Needless to say the drum set drove us up the wall and I promised myself to get even some day. Several years late I got even; Sandy had married and had four kids. I saw some drum sets on sale so four of them I did get. I called her Christmas morning, as was our custom, when she got on the phone I heard so clear "You Dirty Rat You Got Me Back".

When we first got married my friend wanted to surprise me with deep fried shrimp. I took one bite and asked her so nice, did you peel the shrimp first? Her chin dropped and she asked do you peel shrimp? It became our custom to have a shrimp cocktail with every holiday meal.

My friend was raised on the West Coast and had never seen much snow on the ground. My baby sister Sandy showed her how to make "Snow Angels" and when I got home one night I had to go out and see all the Angels she made for me.

It's 11:30, so time to kiss my friend good night and thank my God for all his blessings. As I drift off into dreamland I will think of all the good that this life has given me.

Copyrighted By Dan Hanley 2001

Dan Hanley has been a faithful and loving caregiver to his wife Doe, who has MS for about twenty years. His love, joy, and sense of humor are gifts that have warmed all our hearts. You may read more about Dan in his Spotlight here at the site:Dan Email Dan at: dmhanley@aol.com


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