Sunday, December 27, 2009

In Who I Am

With the eyes of an older woman, I still see through the eyes of a small child the lights and wonder of the Christmas tree, of the fireplace in the basement, lights turned off and Christmas lights surrounding the ceiling warmly lighting the family around the fire.

With the voice of a small girl, I stand once more in front of the elderly in the county home singing “Away In The Manger.” Wrinkled hands reach out to touch my blonde curls. I sit on the bench next to my mother and find my harmony in this chorus of family voices.

With the ears of a small girl, I hear stories of Christmas’s past, of crops and baking, of local gossip and family catching up across the miles of separation. I hear the sweet voices of neighbors who have been mine for a lifetime.

With a small girl’s hands, I place bread on a once lit tree, our yearly gift to the birds. I sit with my father and watch them feast. A flash of red and a cardinal decorates the tree once more.

The missing of Neff Road sat heavy on this woman on Christmas day. This woman who will not see a cardinal on the feeder since there are none in Oregon. Of a woman who will no longer sit in the basement, the heat of the fire warming her face as she watches the flames dance across the burning logs. She weeps for those who are gone and those far away. Her voice no longer sings with the same clear tones. And she is the one with the wrinkled hands.

I am no longer on Neff Road. Yet Neff Road is found in the sitting by the fire with my grandchildren reading books and watching the flames dance across a Duraflame log. “Can we sing Christmas songs after Christmas?” Syd asks. Of course, we can. I’ll sing them with you all year if you wish.

Yesterday I sat by the bed of my friend who has MS. Her Christmas was spent in her bed unable to move but a few fingers. I meet her new roommate who has been fighting a losing battle with cancer. A wrinkled hand holds another of the same as I lay my cheek on the brow of my friend.

Neff Road runs right through the middle of my house. It is in what I pass on, in what I share, in who I am. For you who live there still, you are blessed. And, you live next door to my heart that resides there still.

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