Sunday, December 25, 2011
The Empty Box
On this Christmas morning, I am sharing with you a story which happened
25 years ago. I was 27 and had two s mall sons. My mom had died that June and it ws our first Christmaas without her. My dad was only in his 50s but we had been noticing some alaraming symptoms. Things that made us believe he was developing some sort of early onset dementia, It was devastating for us to think that my vibrant, extremely intelligent father was literally slowly losing his mind. We all missed Mom and it was difficult even thinking about Christmas without her. But Dad insisted we carry on. I remember he often said those last few weeks before Christmas that he was out Christmas shopping. He wanted no help...he wanted to do t on his own. My mom had done most of the shopping so this was a pretty new concept!! So on t hat Christmas morning he slowly handed out our presents. He handed me a box wrapped in pretty Christmas paper. It was the size and shape of a clothes box. I opened the box and inside....it was empty. Dad was sitting near by anxiously waiting to see my reaction to the gift he picked out for me. I showed him the box and said.." Dad the box is empty...there is nothing in it."" I will never forget the look on his face, the embarrassment, the frustration, the disappointment. He said"Oh Shoot!!and ran back up stairs with the box. A few minutes later he came down and again handed me the box. Inside was a beautiful dark green zippered sweatshirt. It was perfect. Those of you that know me know that dark green is my favorite clothes color and as the mother of 2 small children, I loved sweatshirts. My Dad on his own had picked out the perfect gift. But he was still feeling bad about the empty box. And truthfully so was i. The fact that it had happened only confirmed what we had already been fearing. The dad we had known all of our lives was changing. There was something going on and we cold not ignore it. And yes, the disease progressed, he was diagnosed with both Parkinson's and early onset demntia. The following years were tough and Dad died at the age of 64 way too young for a man who had so much to give. I still think of that Christmas and of the box that dad handed me...but I know something now...that I didn't know then. The box wasn't empty at all. It was filled with love, the love of a man who knew just the right gift for his daughter, the perfect sweatshirt in her favorite color. I miss my Dad always....but never as mush as on Christmas.