Not quite Christmas, but a few days afterward. The Carolina Panthers were playing in New Orleans on 28 December, so my parents decided to make a road trip of it. They drove down for the game and then down to our house to celebrate the new year.
The kids were with us – meaning a stuffed-full house, so my parents stayed at a hotel (this was perhaps their preference anyhow; my guest room is not known for its level of comfort).
We are great loungers in my family. So there were no trips to see the giant statue of Sam Houston. If San Antonio were closer, my mother would’ve made us to go the Alamo, so thank goodness it’s 3 hours away.
Once I negotiated an argument between two of the Wickeds, and when I turned around afterward, my dad was beaming and my mother looked a little ill.
“Is it weird to see me parent?” I asked.
“NO,” Dad said.
“YES,” Mom said.
Another time, Dad was talking to los childrens and fiddling with the wooden cross that he always carried in his pocket. Then he pulled it out, and it was in two pieces.
“I could fix this,” he said, “but I decided not to. It reminds me that we are all broken, and it’s only love that holds us together.”
He had tears in his eyes when he said that.
On New Year’s Eve, Mom and I cooked up a storm, including a ham the size of New Jersey. Dad went out with Mr. Dingo Jones and the boys to the gigantic fireworks store. They were gone for over an hour, and they came back with at least half the fireworks in the place.
MDJ’s family came over, and we ate snacks and blew things up in the driveway, per Texas tradition. Dad had so much fun he was about squeaky, and he was out there until every last explody thing had been exploded.
We didn’t know at the time that it would be his last Christmas. Sure was a good one. Mama taped his cross to the bed rail by his head. She still has it. It still falls easily into two pieces, and we still strive to hold each other together with love.