I Remember December
by Lawrence Thomas
Copyright 2009 Lawrence Thomas
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I Remember December
I don’t remember night time. I must have been asleep when we arrived at their home.
Morning. I remember morning. It was a beautiful sunlit day. The Foster’s lived on the outskirts of the steel city, on a quiet country road. Space enough for another home between them on either side. The daylight beamed in through the windows that covered much of the south wall of their living room. It was cold outside, mid December, but the brightness in the room seemed to give that moment a summer’s warmth.
The room turned cold the moment I saw my mother’s tired face, her eyes swollen and red from crying. She took my hand, and led me over to the couch on the north wall, opposite the window that now seemed dark.
“Your grandma is gone,” my mother sobbed uncontrollably. She pulled me close, and wrapped her arms around me. We cried there for an hour. I was nine.
The year was 1982 - our first Christmas without my grandparents in our lives.
We had hardly laid my grandmother to rest, when the clock above the old East Hamilton Radio on Barton Street struck morning on Christmas Day.
It was the one night of the year that children the world over, willingly jumped under the covers (their curious little eyes peaking out from the comforter tucked up under their noses), and fought hard through all the excitement to fade off into dreamland. Santa would surely arrive sooner if the sugar rush from all the baked holiday goodies would just wear off.
While visions of Tyco electric race tracks, and Star Wars figurines danced through other little boys’ heads, I dreamt of the commotion of the entire family, aunts, uncles and cousins, stuffed into the basement of our Queen Victoria town-home for Christmas dinner, the smell of my great-grandfather’s pipe, playing walky-talkies with my grandfather, or the comforting sound of my grandmother’s voice.
I don’t recall much of that Christmas, but I remember the night my grandmother died as if it happened only yesterday.
My father was working the night shift – it was just my mother, my little sister, and me. My grandmother had called our house earlier that evening, to say that she wasn’t feeling very well. I guess being nine, I didn’t think much of her call at the time.
My mom however, knew better. My grandmother didn’t complain. She didn’t go to the doctor. Something was wrong.
I usually jumped at the chance to go to my grandmother’s, but the one place I loved visiting equally as much, was my Aunt’s house. I asked if I could go and hang out with my cousins instead of going with my mother that evening, and I was granted my wish. It is a choice I regretted for many years.
We played Activision, Ants in Pants and Planet of the Apes. I cherished hanging out with my cousins, so time spent in their Berko Avenue play space, are moments I still remember fondly.
At some point during that night, my best friend’s dad picked me up on his way