December 15, 2022 — Late on Sunday afternoon, Sonny and I went to Effie’s Assisted Living Place to visit my mother. All the residents were together and the energy was really good. A few musicians had just put on a holiday concert so they were in the Christmas spirit. I sat at the dining room table and my 92-year-old matriarch with mild dementia looked me in the eyes and said, “And?” And so I started telling stories of past family Christmases, while she held my hand and stood up and put her arm around me and kissed the top of my forehead.
Other ladies joined us. And it became a conversation about relationships during the holidays. Of course Mom didn’t say much more than a sentence at a time. She continued to show what a relationship was by staring into my eyes and holding my hand. I left with Mary directing me to hug everyone in the home goodbye. Then Sonny and I drove to Good Harbor Beach for a short hike. The sun had long decended.
The beach was windy and stark and cold and so vastly different from Effie’s coziness. We headed inland and walked up and down the wind-protective shore dunes overlooking the blackening bay. The tall white pines were black silhouettes in the night sky. It was strikingly quiet and beautiful. Sonny and I shared the beauty only with the wind, waves and deepening darkness. I thought about how much quieter this winter is compared to the previous ones, when the pandemic gave summer residents a year-round reason to stay here in the north. The roads, trailheads, beaches are vacant again, and the solitude feels stronger than before Covid.
Yet the conversations and hugs of my little visit with Mom and her lady friends were still with me as I walked these barren dunes. I could almost feel the holiday laughter and love float around me and touch the pines and junipers as I walked.