Sunday, December 19, 2010
One of my fondest Christmas memories...
As we learned back in one of my other #poignancyalert blogs, that I lost Gary, the man who served as my father-figure, during the Santa Cruz earthquake.
You probably have a sense of my loss and devastation, but I thought this Christmas season I would give you a gift of the joy that he brought to me in the form of one of my most cherished memories with him.
You see to us Christmas was a SEASON. The entire house was decked out in a specific theme and we actually built a life sized nativity scene. I mean LIFE-SIZED!
I am talking manager, camels, wise men, donkeys... and an angel.
Now, of course we couldn't make it to scale for the star of Bethlehem to be way up in the sky, however, we could put that star, and the angel, all the way up at the top of the pine tree.
Not only were we competing with other home decoration enthusiasts, people would drive for miles and miles, and even from counties away to see our nativity.
So to say this was a big deal to us would be a massive understatement.
Which you would assume we would be completely ready every year for the judges... um #notsomuch
You see if we were even close to being ready, Gary would think of some new, great, awesome thing to add to the nativity and off we would go, making ourselves late... yet again.
Therefore it was no great surprise that this one year, we were late in getting the angel up. The only problem was, Gary was in a cast and there was a violent wind storm. Who in the world was going to get that angel those thirty feet all the way up to the top of the tree?
I remember Gary looking down at me (I was 10) and just asking with his eyes. Because, you know, we seldom had to talk, we just got each other.
Now I had climbed that tree before, but under these circumstances? Branches were being ripped off by the sheering winds and at 30 feet above ground level that tree was MOVING.
I said, "I'm not sure I can do it."
Gary: "What do you mean 'I'? It'll be both of us up there."
Of course, I knew that he couldn't climb the tree with his cast, but I knew exactly what he meant.
So with Barbara Streisand blaring (I did mention he was gay, right?) and Gary holding the ladder, I strapped that angel to my back and climbed (and yes, I want to thank Gary for simply giving me a ton of stories that have statements like... "with an angel strapped to my back"! #solucky).
It was the scariest thing I had ever done, but each time the tree seemed ready to toss me out, I just looked down to Gary and was strengthened by his smile. I am not sure if I have ever felt prouder.
I got the angel up. We won the competition.
Now of course looking back, if that had happened these days I am sure Gary would have been turned into child services and that darned angel got blown out of the tree like a gazillion times and I ended up climbing that tree dozens more times that year (and officially became the angel hanger), but I would not trade that singular moment when his smile shown through the storm for anything.
Especially now that he is gone. When I fret and feel sad, I just remember his words "It'll be both of us up there."
And he was right. He is right next to me. Every day... whether I am up a tree or not.
Thank you, Gary. I can't imagine a more lasting Christmas gift.