Merry Merry
Thursday, December 22, 2005
My grandfather on my mother's side was a funny man - always the first one to crack a joke, and was never afraid to show emotion. In fact, I think I get much of my personality from him. When I was a child, he was always there to put things in perspective with a shortened, and usually sarcastic, version of whatever story was being know the type, the ones in which he is an orphan walking barefoot in the snow uphill both ways? I loved his stories.

When he got older, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. It is a scary, unpredictable, and very frustrating thing to deal with, but he took it like a champ. His sense of humor faded a bit and his stories sort of fell by the wayside, and I was just happy when he recognized me and gave me a hug. Watching him deteriorate was infuriating - I was 18 and full of vitality and life, and he was 88 and leaving us slowly but surely. I never forgot some of the looks on my mother's and grandmother's faces at the hospital, at home, on the bad days.

Every Christmas I would hope in my deepest, darkest heart of hearts for a Christmas miracle for him. In retrospect, I think I just wanted him to come back to us. Every year, he'd do it up right with his brown slippers and Mr. Roger's button-up cardigan sweater...he was always seated in his favorite chair and offered as much holiday spirit as he could. It usually came out in the form of "Merry Merry," which I'm sure he thought was a hilarious shortening of the traditional phrase. Over time, it became his holiday mantra and we all did our best to be as merry as possible. Then we lost him in the fall of 1997 and things just haven't been the same. My grandmother, who is now a very spunky 92, continues to pass along the message to everyone she meets around this time of year.

Merry Merry to you and your loved ones this season - may you be happy and healthy and bright. Be good to one another and also to yourselves. I'll be back early next week.