Anyone who knows me well knows I’m a bit of a curmudgeon around the holidays. December is always a tough month for me. The sheer volume of deadlines and obligations leave me gasping for air by the time December 25th rolls around.
It can also get a bit lonely I’ll admit.
But then… sometimes amazing things can happen.
I was all ready to settle in for the night tonight and write a blog about something extraordinary that I witnessed earlier in the day while visiting my parents for Christmas. I decided I was a bit hungry and before I sat down to write, I thought I might run out into the miserable cold to 7 Eleven to grab a sandwich.
As I was carefully navigating the ice and snow covered sidewalks, I spotted a woman who had pulled into a driveway to turn around and had gotten her car stuck in the icy muck.
“Are you stuck? Can I give you a hand?” I offered.
She was lodged in the ice good.
While her little dog barked away, I got behind the car and began the rocking process we Chicagoans learn at birth and within a minute we managed to get her car out. We exchanged Merry Christmases and we both continued our journeys.
I walked into 7 Eleven to see the smiling face of one of the guys who is often there when I stop in. I picked up a few things and walked to the checkout counter. As he was ringing me up, I said, “You know, I know it sucks to work on Christmas, so I wanted to say thanks for being open today. I’m sure this is probably not the way you wanted to spend your holiday.”
As I was swiping my debit card, I saw him reach behind the counter and pull out a bag with a bow on top.
“This is for you,” he began. “I was hoping you were going to stop by over the holidays. I was afraid you would be out of town or something.”
“This is for me?” I said.
“Yes, you are always so friendly and say hello when you come in.”
I was dumbstruck. When I got home, I opened the bag to find a bottle of wine. Incredible.
Earlier this month, a friend of mine was short on rent money and I gave her a few hundred bucks to tide her over, really never expecting to get it back.
Then last week a client of mine who I had done some free photography work for a few months earlier handed me a check out of the blue to thank me. I wasn’t expecting anything like that.
Which brings me to the reason I actually was going to write tonight in the first place.
As some of you may know, my mom had couple of strokes last year. She has regained the ability to walk and talk and can use her left arm, but her right arm and hand has no functioning motor skills. My dad has been working hard, trying to come up with things to get her brain working like it used to, hoping to continue her recovery. Trying to repair or regrow the part of her brain that controls her right arm.
So he decided music might be helpful. She used to play the violin and he had it restrung. Since she can’t use her right arm, he sits with her and he is learning how to bow while she uses her left hand on the fret board.
And I tuned his old guitar today and he’s doing the same thing with that. It’s absolutely incredible. They told me about it a few weeks ago, so I had them practice in front of me because I wanted to photograph it.
My parents come from a time when the husband goes to work and the wife maintains the house. My mom in particular handled everything under the roof. She was particularly adept at the electrical, the plumbing. Pretty much everything that needed to be done. My dad wasn’t lazy. She was just better at all of that than him.
So when her strokes virtually immobilized her, my dad had to take over. And he surprised everyone with how he stepped up when he needed to. He’s been incredible. He even admits if you told him five years ago what he’d have to learn and do for my mom, he says he wouldn’t have thought he had it in him.
But clearly he does.
Here are some of the photos from earlier today.
It was amazing to witness.
What an extraordinary day December 25th turned out to be today.