At this time of year, people are abuzz trying to find the perfect gift...iPads, video games, jewelry, chocolate, or books. The ideas are endless.
But my mother has already given our family the most perfect gift of all -- the gift of caring for her elderly Father (my Grandpa).
Two months ago, after my 94 year old Grandpa had recovered from a broken hip (he'd fallen 5 times in the midst of one night's span), she and my Father made the selfless decision to permanently move him into their home. For them the decision seemed easy...he could no longer live safely unassisted in the home he had spent his entire life in, and they wanted him to be in a familiar place surrounded by family. And love.
Initially, I questioned whether this was the right decision, because I knew how much of a sacrifice this was for them and the toll it would take on their lives. Not only were they limiting their freedom to leave the house (unless they've arranged for other family/friends to watch him), they had to endure sleep deprivation many new parents face with an infant (my Grandpa needs assistence every night and buzzes for my mother between 3-8 times a night to help him to the bathroom).
But my Mother is a giver...not in physical gifts, but in her loving, giving nature. And no sacrifice is to large for her family.
This sacrifical love was displayed by my Mom just a few short years ago, when my Grandma was terminally ill. She was her primary caretaker (sharing duties with my local aunts and uncles) until my Grandmother became so weak that she couldn't support her own weight. And even then, when my Grandmother was transferred to a nursing home with hospice care, my Mother was there for her every day.
Whether she realized it or not, it was her last, perfect gift to my Grandmother. Her presence. And her love.
And now, she's giving that same gift to Grandpa. And I cannot thank her enough.
Merry Christmas, Mom. I love you to the moon and back.