1979, 8th grade, the year of my favorite Christmas memory.  It actually happened about a week and a half after the actual day.

We were at my maternal grandparents house on a Friday night waiting for my dad to finish work at the bank and meet us for dinner. My grandfather and I were sitting in the living room. The TV was on and he was watching one of his favorites. It was otherwise quiet and I was caught up in the Christmas tree that was still on display. You know…the one with a ton of old-fashioned Christmas big bulbs, and dripping with icicles.

I said, “The tree looks extra special this year.” I hear the ever present squeak of his faux leather green recliner as he turned and shifted his attention toward me. He smiled a big smile and said, “You know, I don’t say it often but I love you and your sister very much.”  “I love you too, Pap Pap”….

Suddenly, he was struggling to breathe (he had a heart attack the prior summer). I yelled for my mom and grandma, ambulance came, he died a few days later, blackness turned out the Christmas lights.

Despite the grief and sadness, the final words spoken between us were ones of true love. And although I didn’t recognize it then, it was one of the greatest gifts I was ever given.

Throughout my adult life, this scenario has played out in my dreams many times. I hear the squeak of the chair and the whole scenario plays out in vivid living color as if it were yesterday. I can smell the lingering cigarette and pipe tobacco smoke, the tree, the TV, his smile–it gives me chills because it’s so real.

When I think back upon the times the dream occurs, it is when I am struggling with a decision, or am super stressed or just not in the best place. It is then I am blessed with a miracle of a guardian angel. God sends him to me to calm my spirit and fill my soul with a beautiful peace and love.

While sad in some aspects, this memory warms my heart. Although I of course wish he would have been in my life longer, I had been given the gift of his love and he let me know it in the most tender of moments.

Don’t wait to tell those you love how much they mean to you. Life is but a fleeting moment; don’t let the people who matter most slip away. Why not begin this Christmas to make peace and spread love–what are you waiting for?