Littlest Christmas

Little Women, Little Sisters, Little Christmas.

Little Thomasina drove slowly away with the tiny Walter staring crestfallen out the window in his fur trimmed hood.
He wants to come in but he doesn't think he can handle it.
The dog feels similar.
Her room is empty when I look in, and seems oddly sparse, the Stephen Hawking chair that takes up more room than a sofa gone, the presence, the colour of the patchwork blanket around her legs missing.
The light and contrast have been erased.
Siobhan is parked in the corner of the packed Oratory where Mass will be celebrated for Little Christmas, and the Annual Party.
I release the brake and manoeuvure the giant chair through the slippers and wheels and handbags, back out the door and up the hall in one fluid movement and the nick of time.
I tell a Nurse on the way that we will celebrate ourselves.
Her hands are cold and she opens her eyes for one second to look at me, and I smile into her blue eyes.
"Wait till I take off the hat, Siobhan, then you'll know me" -
There is a smile on her own face and I almost faint.
I skip over to the wardrobe to hang my coat thinking today will be an excellent day, and I will work hard at trying to remember, and be present, and listen and record salient points and facts.
I will be the Witness.
Then the door opens and Siobhan's Little Sister comes in.
She has been redirected from the Mass to find us hiding out in plain sight.
We talk and laugh and goster between us while all the sacred holy stuff is happening a hundred yards away.
The door opens and a Carer pops her head in.
"Would Siobhan like a blessing?" says she.
"She'd LOVE one" says I.
"God love her anyway" says the Priest with the white shawl as he leaves.
Soon, we see the hordes descending on the room where the food is at and I brave the throng to get my Godmother a glass of wine. And my Mother.
Little Christmas was known as the Women's Christmas, as it was felt that they could have a rest from boiling hams and stuffing bread up turkeys arses, icing cakes for biscuit tins, and flaming brandy for puddings and could sit down in peace by the fire, on their own arses, eating all the above leftovers, until as full as their own puddings, they could get flaming drunk.
Siobhan had 8 brothers and 3 sisters, and out of all that lot, it is 3 women who are left.
Siobhan, Madge and Anne.
In that order.
Madge watches me feed Siobhan and is inflicted with random bursts of me reading stuff off my phone, showing her photos, and ranting about the minutae of my life,
".........And the Dog is found, thank Christ" ........... Says I drawing a breath.
I have a spoonful of bashed up Trifle on its way to her mouth when Siobhan opens her eyes wide, smiles broadly,and slowly raises her small arm, uncurls her hand and points.
I am speechless.
There is a light around her.
"Madge, Madge, Madge".............  I say and reach for the camera.
Madge is staring.
Siobhan continues to look  and smile, her finger points into the very corner of the room and She seems transfixed.
I am snapping and snapping, the dark, the flash, the shutter speed, I can't get it, ....I can't get it, .........I'm getting it.
"Who are you seeing, Siobhan......... What are you seeing Siobhan?" I ask as the spoon falls to the carpet.
Her finger moves, barely, imperceptibly, and then shakily around and around ............ until it is pointing at me.
I snap and snap.
And then, like a clockwork doll winding down, the lights go out, the hand slowly drops down and the blue eyes close.
I am delightedly shocked.
I am shockingly delighted.
Michelle Shocked.
When I bring the bowls back to the kitchen I lean in over the giant chair and say - "Tell your sister the 3rd Secret of Fatima for the Little Womens Christmas" and my own walks down the hall to bring me home.
2 pairs of Sisters,
Mother and Daughters,
Aunt and Nieces,
Godmother and Godchild.
A woman I have been running away from for months, never having the time to engage, or ever actually MEET for the coffee I have sworn and promised faithfully every single time, finally caught up with me the other day.
I was ready to trot out an excuse about having to leg it when she unzipped her bag hastily and handed me a piece of paper with this on it -
"People who have Alzheimers are living breathing examples of Mindfulness, of Presence, and of simply BEING - as they have no past, they have no future , they have only the NOW that they inhabit."
These are my words as she took the piece of paper back to keep. You get my drift though.
There may have been Sacred, Holy stuff going on closer than I thought.
My own Little Sister took the photograph, as though I have thousands OF her, I have few WITH her.
Blessings and love from the Women for your own Little Christmas.


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