December 25th, 2006 was the first Christmas without my mom. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with our children, our grandson and my dad. It was a quiet day spent reading, playing games and sharing memories. I know that this Christmas was a very difficult one for my dad so I appreciate so much the effort he made to join in and be a part of our Christmas celebration and traditions.
On Christmas Eve as my grandson was placing his plate under the Christmas tree I was reminded of a story my mom would share with me when I was a little girl. The day my mom and her cousins put their plates under the tree was on the evening of December 18th. During the very early morning of December 19th, St. Nicholas filled the children’s plates with candy and gifts. He also sometimes left a willow branch under children’s pillows to warn them to be on their best behaviour.
My mom and her cousins would put their plates on their front porches. After the children were sure to be asleep their grandfather would hitch the horses to a sleigh and make sleigh tracks around each grandchild’s home. When the children woke up the next morning and checked their plates they would see the sleigh tracks left by “St. Nicholas”.
Stress is a real pain; pain is not caused by stress but stress can certainly increase pain levels. I have had about as much stress as my body can tolerate. Yesterday, December 26th, I went over to see my dad after lunch. I knew that two of his daughters were staying with him but you can imagine my surprise when I walked in the door and saw four daughters busy cleaning out closets and drawers. It did not take a mental giant to see that my dad was emotionally devastated and in no shape to deal with what was happening in his home.
Since I am not an idiot I knew that it was time to bow out of what was fast becoming a toxic sibling relationship. My blood pressure was much to high with sudden decreases which were much too low. The pain was becoming unbearable. It would take all of my will power to put this nonsense out of my mind so that my body and my soul could get a break from the horrendous stress.
Living with an autoimmune disease is difficult at the best of times. It brings with it leg cramps, foot cramps, arm cramps and hand cramps. It also brings with it severe pain, nausea, dizziness and extreme fatigue. However to be shunned and vilified by the people you should be able to trust is by far the worst side effect.