XEmma, my mother, loved giving parties. She spent hours in the kitchen preparing all the food, then sat at the head of the table, serving her guests a gourmet fare set with fine china and silverware on a white linen tablecloth. In the last years of Emma’s life, I gave Christmas parties. Emma loved meeting my friends.

I spent a week decorating the eight-foot tree, but my parties were potluck served on paper plates with plastic utensils.

By December 2011, Emma, 97, was situated in her hospital bed in the living room, in the final stages of dementia. She had four months to live, though we didn’t know how long at the time. My friends asked me if I was going to have a party this year. Now that we had 30-hour-a-week Attendant Services Care for Emma, largely attended to by reliable, capable, loving Daphne, I thought I would have the time and said yes.

The day before the party, Daphne said, “I want to get Emma up and dressed for the party.”

I groaned.

“No, no, I’ll do it,” said Daphne. “I’ll do everything.” And Daphne did. She helped me set up for the party, got Emma up and dressed in red, her best color, hair styled, red lipstick on.

My friends came bearing food, drink, and honey from their own bees. These are extraordinary people — artists, teachers, healthcare professionals, environmental stewards, humanitarians, spiritual leaders, all accomplished in their fields. One friend played his guitar and sang original songs and sea shanties.  My friends look forward to the warm camaraderie of these annual events.

Emma sat at the head of the table, smiled and ate, with Daphne’s attentive care. Then she tired and began to list in her chair, so Daphne took her into the other room and settled her into bed.

Daphne left and the guests left except two couples. The five of us sat in the living room, with Emma resting there in her bed behind us, and talked for another two hours. I think Emma enjoyed that. She seemed peaceful and probably drifting into and out of sleep; I recalled how she used to enjoy sitting with her guests at table or in the living room talking into the evening after a meal.

Christmas is a time for giving and these are the irreplaceable offerings of my friends who came to my annual Christmas party that December night.

Samantha Mozart

14 Responses to Xmas

  1. What a beautiful moment and memory. I love that you were able to give a party that your mother also enjoyed in her final days. Daphne sounds like an angel.

    • sammozart says:

      Yes, I think my mother enjoyed the party, Sara. Daphne is an angel. Amazing family. They have very little yet give a lot.

      She doesn’t use a computer, so she is unable to read all the kind words my readers have said about her. I will pass them along — and she’ll smile, just smile quietly and then go on with the next thing.


  2. Pat Garcia says:

    That is so true. Those were the irreplaceable offerings of friends that helped you get through Christmas, and it was gift where value cannot be measured.

    I believe Emma lay there in bed and listened. She was contented and maybe she even thought of days gone by when she was the mistress at the table.

    I too was at home in Georgia for my mother’s New Year’s Eve. We watched the year change over, and she was recovering so well when I left. Neither of us knew that within months her health would deteriorate and that I would be flying home to care for her and say goodbye.

    This was a very touching post.

    • sammozart says:

      Yes, Patricia, I feel fortunate that I have such extraordinary friends — who just took the whole thing in stride — and I like to think that among us we made my mother’s departure happy and pleasant.

      It is comforting that you watched the turn of a new year and a new turn in your relationship with your mother and then that your were able to be there in the end.

      Moments in our lives that touch us deeply. Thank you.


  3. Fee says:

    I love to read your posts at the end of my day. They’re so calming. Beautifully written, once again.

    I can’t believe that tomorrow’s the penultimate day – where did the time go?

    Fee | Wee White Hoose
    Scottish Mythology and Folklore A-Z

    • sammozart says:

      The ultimate compliment. Thank you, Fee.

      Me, too — don’t know where the time went.


  4. Susan Scott says:

    What a lovely Xmas memory Samantha thank you for sharing it with us! Good on Daphne for ‘insisting’ on getting Emma dressed for the occasion and for all the friends who came by bearing gifts and joy. May this memory live on …

    • sammozart says:

      Thank you, Susan. You put it all so well and concisely. The memory will live on.

      Yes, and thanks to Daphne and all she did. She loves photography and photographed my mother in her last days, so I have a little album of her all dressed up and with backdrops. Plus a CD video of photos taken throughout my mother’s life that Daphne put together, too, for the funeral service.

  5. Marsha Lackey says:

    Merry Xmas Dear Emma and company. I may, likely, always have this festive vision in my memory. As I’ve often said I’m as much an observer as I am a reader. You bring us into your presence. Thank you so much for continuing your loving and spiritual sharing of your celebrations as well as your challenges. I am going to miss this. Love, Coral Roo

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks, Marsha. I will miss it, too. But, I’ll see what other of these stories, that I didn’t get to tell this time, I can tell in future posts. Especially with Moriarty around: he is the constant throughout.

      Love to you,
      Turquoise Roo

  6. Gwynn Rogers says:

    I completely agree with Hilary’s comment. Your mom must have thoroughly enjoyed that Xmas with the dinner conversations, music, and after dinner chats. Daphne definitely was a treasure. The evening sounded quite fun and lovely. Wonderful post, Samantha! Hugs, Gwynn

    • sammozart says:

      Yes, Gwynn, as I just replied to Hilary, I believe Mother did enjoy the event. There was a sense of peace about her.

      Daphne remains a friend and a treasure, as do her family, helping me in lots of ways.


  7. Hilary says:

    Hi Samantha … I’m sure your mother loved hearing the banter, and quietness of voices over the Christmas Fare .. what a generous and wonderful gesture to your mother – and Daphne sounds like a total godsend ..

    Cheers Hilary

    • sammozart says:

      I sensed that Mother did enjoy the banter, Hilary. And, Daphne remains a godsend. She kind of watches over me, and she and her family help me in many ways even now.

      So glad you came by. Thanks.