was a short, I mean really short story I wrote in my Bradshaw High School’s Creative Writing class in Florence, Alabama taught my Nina Hargett. I gave it this title because Christmas 1981 was an experience that I would never forget. A lot of things occurred this holiday that would change my life forever.
Christmas at my house was always different and fun and very exciting. Many of you that know the Garners know that we are always trying to be the hit of any party and at Christmas we just simply had a good time. Our family relationship during Christmas was special for me. We knw the true religious, Christian celebration of Christmas.
This Christmas would be different because my father, Frank was experiencing some medical setbacks that would soon come to light. Just like our dad, he would not let on to the true pain he was suffering for fear of ruining our holiday festivities.
As this Christmas was drawing near, we did not know if we all would be together. The year before was our first to not all be at mom’s house. My sister Charlotte had married a gentleman from Louisiana and lived close to 10 hours away. My brother Mike was stationed in San Diego, California in the U.S. Navy. Charlotte was married spring 1980 and Mike left for basic training 8 months later. My 2 oldest siblings had grown up and moved away.
Mike had gotten “leave” to come home for Christmas and set out on Interstate 10 leaving California headed for Alabama. Charlotte and her husband were able to make it and they did safely.
All the decorations were up and lit and a beautiful star my father had made was up and glowing proudly. This star was a sign of his craftsman skills and his Christian love knowing what this star meant. This star would come to be known to many of the younger kids as the tell-tell sign that when they see this blue star lit, knew that they were getting close to arriving at their own house. A landmark if you will.
We had to learn to have patience as Mike was having longer travels as originally planned. Our family Christmas would not be complete without him. Our love grew stronger as that Christmas night grew longer.
His arrival did come the day after Christmas and this too was the night that our dad would be hospitalized. He was transported to Birmingham’s Montclair Hospital.
Dad had suffered extremely high cholesterol levels, several heart bypasses, blood clots that necessitated amputation of one of his legs. This night, 17 days after being triaged for his failing health, passed of congestive heart failure. A side note: I did experience angels speaking to me, comforting me in knowing what had just transpired. Prepping me for the bad news that was about to be delivered.
It did not seem possible that I would be seeing my father laid to rest on this cold, snowy January day.
This is a section out of The Night That Changed Our Lives that I wanted to share. It reminds me of this day that we experienced in the death of our father and how those lasting memories you want to stand tall and memorable and keep with you forever.
Think about what the Lord can bring you today in the form of a miracle, a blessing to share with others, or how you can give back to Him. Give each family member one big hug with a smile on your face as you each go in different directions. Leave them with good thoughts and that smile on your face. You never know when it is your time, and I now always want that hug and smile to be a lasting memory. Bessie Anderson Stanley reminds us to “live well, laugh often, and love much.”
God bless each of you in your pursuit of happiness, and may God be in the forefront of whatever it is you are doing. Merry Christmas to all!