I slept through Christmas. No, really, I slept through Christmas. Honest. Well, most of it anyway. On Christmas Eve I went to bed somewhere between nine and ten. At four-thirty, my bladder roused me. After tending to the anxious urinary tract, I thought, “Might as well get dressed and get going.” So, I put on my socks. Then I thought, “Maybe a little more sleep will do me good.” With that, I crawled back under covers, thinking I’d up by six-thirty, seven at the latest.
Yeah, right. It was nine-thirty when I reluctantly stirred, and then only because that spoiled brat of a bladder was resorting to its usual attention-getting behaviors. I really wasn’t in the mood to get up and cater to its whims, but I was afraid if I didn’t it would get angry and make a mess. Off to the bathroom I went to placate it. When it finished pissing around, I leaned back in the wheelchair and immediately fell asleep.
A few minutes before eleven, the phone startled me. Opening my eyes and finding myself still in the bathroom was even more startling. It was Russ on the phone, and after the obligatory Merry Christmases, he said he’d be over to collect me for Christmas dinner with him and Karen in an hour or two. “Two hours would be better,” I told him. “That’s OK,” he said. “I’ll be there around one.”
I sat on the side of the bed to get dressed. But, I didn’t. I sat a few minutes, feeling as if I might vomit. But, I didn’t. “Well,” I thought, “better lie down for a few minutes. No hurry; I’ve got two hours.” I stretched out on the bed and fell asleep. At twenty-of-one, the phone rang. “Merry Christmas,” a jolly Beth said. “Did I catch you at a good time?” “You woke me up,” I told her. “I need to get ready to go over to Russ and Karen’s.” “No problem. I’ll call you tomorrow.” But, I didn’t get ready to go visiting. Instead, I slept until Russ called, ten minutes later. “I’ll be over to get you in few minutes,” he said. I hemmed, then I hawed, and then I told him I wasn’t ready, didn’t know when I’d be ready, and maybe I’d best stay home. “No problem,” he said. “We’ll do it tomorrow.” Delighted to have such understanding offspring, I slept until nearly three o’clock before finally getting my lazy butt out of bed.
I was up before the sun on Boxing Day. At one that afternoon, Russ rolled me into their apartment, and Molly – either a toy or miniature dachshund, I’m not sure which – greeted me with bubbling exuberance, jumping up on my lap and giving me sloppy dog kisses all over my face. She does this every time I visit, because I’m a soft touch and generously share my dinner with her. Karen had prepared a wonderful dinner of ham, mash potatoes, and green beans, with the best cheesecake ever for dessert. But as Russ pushed me up to the table, Karen said, “Don’t give Molly any ham; it makes her sick.” A few bite-sized bits of roll did pass from my hand to Molly’s waiting mouth, however. I couldn’t let her think I was ignoring her. A grandpa needs someone to get up on his lap and kiss his nose, and cheeks, and forehead, and chin, and leave lip prints on his glasses. But the grandkids are in Idaho, and Molly is the next best thing.
Beth called while I was there and gave me a very special Christmas present. She said that all the Christmas cards received by the Pratts this Christmas season had been hung on the front door. One of them, however, wound up on Hayden’s bedroom door. That card was the one from his grandpa in Georgia. That wasn’t as good as having an excited five-year old bouncing on my lap, but it was close.
Another gift I’ll treasure is the small collage of seven pictures Karen and Russ put together. There is a picture of Russ and Beth on my lap. It has to be thirty years old, probably taken in 1985, when Beth was one, and Russ seven. Next to it is a picture of Hayden, MaKenna, Russ, Beth and me taken last spring when Beth, Debbie and the kids came to Columbus for a visit. Words cannot describe the feeling of seeing two happy, smiling kids on my knees, next to a picture of them as adults, the confident, assured, loving adults we always hoped they would become, along with the next generation of happy, smiling kids.
It was a wonderful Christmas, indeed.