One Final Christmas
This, though the saddest, is also the most joyous of Christmas’ I can ever remember. Life has been good to me and my family. My wife and I have five wonderful and beautiful children along with the three greatest sons-in-law a family could ask for. Three are our own children and two were brought into this world by someone else but they came to be ours from the love my wife and I were able to offer them. My wife and I will always feel that we are their Mom and Dad, but this is not what the story is about. Instead it is about the miracle of giving.
To tell this story will be difficult. I hope that you will take the opportunity to read it because it comes from my heart like nothing I have ever known. I have not spoken much on this subject for nearly seven years, but as I take this step I must remember that ONE FINAL and JOYOUS Christmas.
Our families came from a small community in Massachusetts where a person’s employer didn’t recognize their employees as just another body, but instead, as part of an extended family.
My father had been employed, as long as I can remember, as a truck driver for one company or another. Without that final company he worked for, Palmer Paving, this story could never be told. My father was reaching for that brass ring that would call him to retirement when he and my mother would be able to enjoy their golden years together. That time was never to arrive.
A few months before his retirement, my father was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the throat. Only a miracle would have allowed him to remain on this earth, but this time there would be no such miracle.
My family lives in South Carolina, some 800 miles away, and my brother and his family lived in Columbia, South Carolina at that time. We knew that our place was as a family in Massachusetts by my father’s and mother’s side this holiday season. The money wasn’t there but I knew that some way, some how, we would be there.
My father’s employer had offered to pay for my parents to take that trip they had always dreamed of, but my father was unable to travel like he once had. The company then told my parents they would give the gift of a man having his entire family together for this one holiday that would more then likely be my father’s last Christmas.
The company footed the entire bill to have two families flown from South Carolina to Massachusetts so a family could be together.
We were able to recall many things from times gone past. We relived a lot of memories. We lived each day to its fullest knowing that at anytime it could be my father’s last. This was not a Christmas made up of gifts under a tree that we could no longer remember. Instead, it was the gifts of memories that will never be forgotten.
I will always remember like it was today — that one last hug, that one last kiss, that one last tear; not of sadness but of joy knowing the man my father was and the man he helped mold me into.
To those who made that one final journey possible, I THANK YOU, AGAIN. No greater gift can ever be given then to allow one’s family to be together during a time of need.
After Christmas, we departed and returned to our daily lives in South Carolina. My sister-in-law, Karen, was expecting a child at the time and shortly after my father passed away she had a son. When I see my nephew I am able to see the twinkle of my father’s eye.
Today, we strive each and every moment of our lives to maintain contact with our children, wherever they may be, and let them know that WE LOVE THEM. That is what brought our Redeemer into this world 2000 years ago on that first Christmas.
Bruce P. Bleau (son, father, grandfather)
and a family remembrance.