Christmas Day – The Best Exhaustion Ever!

I wasn’t exactly looking forward to Christmas this year. So much sadness going on in this country and in the world – the Garner and Brown cases, and the killings of more than 100 children at a school in Pakistan, just to name a few. So for the last few weeks, I had lost my voice, I just didn’t have the words to express everything I was feeling. That all changed on Christmas morning. My voice came back!

We arrived early at the Seward house to open gifts and there was excitement even as Kim had been up most of the night like many parents assembling gifts. Kendal even had a fever, BUT she loved EVERY SECOND of opening her presents and we loved opening ours!! We laughed as she pranced around in her chef jacket and hat, we yelled “ooooh” and “ahhh” and “yay” as every package was torn open. We cherished the many photos we took, and we ate a wonderful breakfast prepared by Herb.

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From there we went a few miles away to see my niece Nia and her family. I haven’t spent a Christmas morning with Nia since she was a little girl. It was a joyous time! We love Keith, and Nia’s kids Karter and baby Krista and arrived in time to see them open their gifts to each other. Though Karter didn’t say much while we were there, he reached up to us to be held and he explored all his new toys with great curiousity. It was pure bliss holding Krista Renee close to my chest as my cross with my sister’s ashes lay across my heart. My sister Renee would love her grandkids if she was still with us!

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The last stop of the day was to see my mom, and I prayed there’d be a few moments of joy. To my surprise, there were actually many moments of joy. We listened to her read her Christmas card over and over, we ate a small Kit Kat bar, which I shared with her was her favorite candy of all time. But the thing that will sustain me the most as her dementia progresses is the hug she gave me as we departed that day!

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At the end of the day, I was thoroughly exhausted and in bed by 9pm! I wasn’t exhausted because I had been up all night, because I had not, or because there was family tension, because there was none. I was exhausted because of the pure love and joy that I expended and received on Christmas Day. Joy that makes you feel as if your heart is going to burst is exhausting!! You think you can’t take another moment of joy, and then more comes. You soak it all in and then you’re drained. And there’s no other feeling like it! It’s the best exhaustion Ever! Can’t wait for next Christmas!

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Mother / Daughter Monday!

Today everything was aligned perfectly – the appointments, the traffic and even the weather. I took the day off to spend with my Mom. We took care of her annual doctor’s appointment and then went on a field trip of sorts an hour north of her doctor’s office. Our field trip was to the Mar-Lu-Ridge Retreat Center in Jefferson, MD so I could determine first hand if it would be an acceptable location to hold our church retreats.

The doctor’s appointment went as smooth as silk, and besides from not knowing who I am and not talking as much as she used to, my Mom is in incredible health, including having the blood pressure of a 21 year old. The hour drive was great, free of any construction hangups (a nightmare when in a car with a dementia sufferer)!!! Mom for some reason didn’t ask 100 times where we were going as she normally does. She sat quietly and enjoyed the ride. We arrived at the retreat center a full 30 minutes before our scheduled appointment. To pass the time, we sat in the car and sang songs and ate raisins as we marveled over the spectacular valley that was laid out in front of us.

The tour was short and sweet. We looked at the guest rooms, the dining hall, and the awesome meeting space on the top floor of the conference center. I loved the fact that everything is in the same building. As we moved from area to area, Mom would hold my hand and then sit quietly in a chair until we moved to the next area. Even at almost 86 years old, she went up and down the stairs as if they were nothing!

The only area NOT within the conference center was the chapel. Given the fact that St. Mark’s always uses the chapel on Sunday mornings as the formal end of a weekend retreat, I wanted to see it. So we rode the two miles to the main retreat center area. Doing so was awe-inspiring! After we “toured” the breathtaking chapel, and took photos, the wonderful director (who shared that her Mother has Alzheimer’s disease) left us to look around the grounds and take more photos. We did take a few more photos, but felt drawn to return to the chapel. We held hands and just sat on the wooden pews, for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. I silently thanked God for this beautiful day with my Mom. What a Gift! The only word my Mom spoke as we sat was “beautiful”. The one word I’d choose that best describes our blessed day, is “priceless”. Love you Mom!

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