Saturday, December 1, 2007

Catherine Rose

Oh My! It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The house isn't cleaned, the decorations aren't up and I am STRESSING.

Christmas time is such an emotionally variant time.

The kids with their gifts, more than they ever really need, the thoughts of family and friends, both past and present. Wow. Let's see if I can share a bit:

Growing up was easy and hard. I, like my children, grew up with every thing I ever needed and 9/10ths of what I could ever want. Somehow at Christmas, my parents forgot what the holiday meant. They fought constantly. They fought about the silliest things. My father the atheist was all about showing off wealth, my mother, the devout Catholic, was all about tradition and ceremony. The only thing they ever really agreed on what that the "Joneses" were not as well off, and couldn't afford the luxury of fighting over the wealth or the ceremony. I learned to hate Christmas.

Several years later, I met a woman. I was just out of college, had been briefly married, and was not about to go home. I never did like living alone, so I found a roommate. I came back to South Florida with ideas of being free. I wanted to work hard and party hard. I had absolutely no intention of being told when I came home or what I did with my money or my time. This woman, Cathy, needed a roommate and she and I were a perfect match. She worked nights, I worked days, she was neat and quiet, I was never home. It was perfect until that first Christmas. Cathy finally had company and wanted to have a traditional Christmas, I wanted no part of it. Christmas was about the party for me, the tradition for her.

Fearing that she would ask me to leave a perfect situation if I didn't comply, I dragged out her silly little bow making machine, and promptly set about making those sill homemade bows that she wanted to decorate the tree with (ugh, ugly AND homemade). I bought her a token gift and on Christmas Eve, me being impatient to get this over with, I wrapped presents. BIG MISTAKE...........HUGE.......I knew how to wrap, and make things pretty, and she wanted my help because her wrapping skills were sorely lacking.

She had presents for EVERYONE, and asked me to wrap them all. There was a gorgeous purse for her co-worker, the simple gold chain and cross for someone she had met at the hospital where she worked. There were silly trinkets for the girls in the computer room, the gag gifts for her bosses. I wrapped them all.

I finally did get to go out that night, but something struck me........being out, in a group of strangers, wasn't nearly as much fun as hanging out with her and wrapping presents. I went home and crawled into bed feeling miserable and sorry for myself.

The next morning, I woke to Christmas carols (can you GET anymore annoying?)and went out in the living room to see what in God's name all the racket was. Cathy handed me a cup of coffee and all smiles, showed me the tree. Every single gift that I so meticulously wrapped was under it, with name on the tags.

Cathy passed away 7 years ago last September. She died of a cancer that she never knew she had until it was too late. She died at home, with me and my daughters. I wanted to make sure that she knew, at the very last minute of her life, that she was loved. Loved, not for what she did, but for who she was. A beautiful woman, full of disdain for the stupid and ordinary, and full of admiration for life. A life she saw in my babies, babies that she had never been able to have, but was such an integral part of raising. I had become her daughter, my daughters were her granddaughters.

This Christmas will be dedicated to her memory.

Catherine Rose, so aptly named. We love you and miss you every day. Rest in Peace my dearest of friends.


Beth said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman.

Sounds like she understood what it was all about.

Michelle said...

Thanks for reading Beth. She truly was one of a kind!

Bronie said...

i'm such a dork. as i sit here with tears in my eyes, some streaming down my face, and a couple dripping onto my shirt, i just had to leave a comment.

this is such a beautiful and loving tribute to your friend.

thank you for sharing something so personal and poignant.