The most important Christmas gift, our presence.

It does not take much to bring happiness to someone’s life.

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My mother turns 90 next month.

She lives in England, I have not seen her for 5 years.

Although she is in fairly good health physically, she does have a few concerns, to be expected at her age and given the injuries she received in a terrorist ambush in 1979.  Mentally, she is as sharp as ever, aware of current events in Canada and the USA as well as the UK. During our weekly phone calls, she talks about everything from horse racing to Formula One motor racing, events in Zimbabwe and knew more about Rob Ford’s (Mayor of Toronto) activities than I did.

But even with the most optimistic outlook, her time is limited. In this post in 2012, I wrote about how she has shown remarkable resilience to overcome huge adversity in her life, but now time is against her.

My brother and his daughters all now live in the UK. They suggested I fly over for our mother’s birthday. Finances have been tight since my heart attack, I was reluctant to commit to the expense. With animals to be cared for and a house to keep heated in a Canadian winter, Sue could not go with me, I have been concerned at leaving her alone. Now that I have cut, split and stacked enough wood in the basement to last until January and with good neighbours to help out in case of emergency, I feel a bit more relaxed.

However I realised that if I did not go for this birthday, I might not get another chance.

With some financial juggling and some help from my sons, I booked my ticket. I fly on 8 December and return on Christmas Eve so that I will be home to spend Christmas Day with Sue.

On Thursday last week, I phoned my mother to tell her that I would be there for her birthday, she was ecstatic. When I spoke to my niece who will be meeting me at the airport, she said that my mother had been convinced she would never see me again. That’s why she was so happy.

When I think about how much this has meant to her, I feel bad about not making more effort to visit her before.

It doesn’t matter how busy we are, it does not take much time to make that call. It is not a huge sacrifice to buy an air ticket.

How about you? Do you make an effort to visit or phone elderly parents as often as you should?

Peter Wright

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  2 comments for “The most important Christmas gift, our presence.

  1. Roberta
    November 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    You are so right….being present in people’s lives is the best present you can give. I am sure you will never regret making this trip to see your mother no matter the financial strain. Nice that you will be back to be with Sue on Christmas.

    I am very glad that I was in my mother’s life especially after my father died. There was not much love there as my mom was a life long alcoholic. ‘Nuff said. But I honored her and spent time with her every week. When I see how other daughters treat their mothers, despite cries of, “I love my mother,” I really have to wonder.

    Have a safe and wonderful trip.

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