My mother passed away two years ago today. Losing someone you love is always terrible, but my mother’s passing was especially traumatic to me. She had spent a couple of weeks in intensive care during the holidays, most of that time in a coma. I spent that Christmas with my father in the waiting room of the ICU. My last words to my unconscious mother before I left the hospital that night was, “You’ll never remember this day, Momma, but we shared our 40th Christmas together.” It would be the last Christmas I’d ever get to share with my mother.
My family had decided to postpone giving Christmas gifts to each other until my mother got better. She did recover somewhat after leaving the hospital. She was very frail, needing an oxygen tank and constant care. But something left her when she came out of her coma and I never saw that energy, that will, that hope again. Her heart gave out shortly after she came home for the last time. We never got to share our gifts with her.
My family put off exchanging our gifts as long as we could. We knew that Mom had specially-picked out these gifts for us and these would be the last gifts we’d ever get from her. She loved Christmas – especially the joy of the season, cooking for others and spending time with family. Christmas was her time. I can’t help but think of my mother when it’s Christmas time. I’ll always think of my mother at Christmas time. Opening her last Christmas gifts to me would be tough.
I decided that I had to open them alone. I didn’t want anyone to see me when I saw what she got me. So I asked my family if I could just take the gifts home with me. When I finally opened them at home, I did better than I expected. I chuckled at the calendars she got me that were out-of-date now. Some of the gift cards she got me had pretty much expired. I smiled at what she got me and thought about the good times we had together, not the bad time at the end of her life.
But it was the socks that did me in.
My mother got me socks for Christmas. My mother always got me socks every Christmas. She always said her boy needed good socks. I hadn’t been a boy in years. I had all the socks I could ever need in a lifetime. If no one ever buys me socks again, I’ll be just fine with the stockpile of socks my mother has given me over the years. But my mother bought me one last batch of socks for Christmas.
And when I opened them, I cried and cried and cried.
Momma bought me socks because she wanted to show me how much she loved taking care of me and how much she loved being my mother … from when I was a needy, little boy to after I had become a successful, self-sufficient man. And I tried to show her how much I loved her by trying to become a man she could be proud of, a man with a unique blend of strength and sensitivity, a man who people looked forward to being with just as much as people looked forward to being with my mother.
They were just socks. They shouldn’t have made me cry that way. You’d think after 40 years, I’d be used to getting them from Mom.
But they weren’t just socks. They reminded me that my mother’s love for me never changed, never waned, still hasn’t stopped. “Christopher Brandon,” she’d say. “I’m so proud of you.” She’d tell me that right now if I could hear her voice.
I could open a sock store with all of the socks my mother has bought me over the years, but they’ll all wear out eventually. However, as long as I live, I’ll always remember that my mother loved me more than anything in this world. And I’ll never, ever, stop trying to make her proud of me.