MY LAST CHRISTMAS WITH MY MOTHER – 1972

Dad & Mom - a Texas family Christmas. Dad's holding the microphone for his narration of the event.

When I recently wrote about my memories of my mother, it brought to mind another poignant event—the last Christmas I ever spent with her. It was a happy celebration and the final time my immediate family would be alive and together on this earthly plane.

My husband and I, with kids in tow, drove from Los Angeles to San Antonio, Texas, to spend about a week with my parents and two siblings, Joan Tupper, 23, and Darby, 19. I was 29, my daughter Heidi was 3 and son Hansi was only 8 months old.

Dad holding Hansi and Heidi

We owned a typical large American car of that era with bench seats. Since the back seat was quite roomy, I came up with a plan to use Hansi’s crib mattress for the long drive. We used baby harnesses attached to seat belts, so the kids would be able to sleep, eat, and also have some freedom of motion. I have no idea how safe this method was, but no one was injured during the drive there and back. That’s my disclaimer and I’m sticking to it! I think it took us three days of driving and we stopped for two nights in a motel.

My mother was already suffering from the kidney disease that would kill her two years later, but at that time it was manageable. She was on a somewhat restricted diet and had to keep her legs elevated several times during the day. As the staunch and courageous Army wife she’d been most of her life, she did little complaining and maintained her sense of humor. I’m sure all of us thought she’d live for many more years, and if we had any misgivings, we kept them to ourselves. I was too young to worry about death. My mother was only 51; I took her longevity for granted. I even failed to save the many letters she’d sent me.

Luckily, we took many photos and made a cassette tape of our Christmas morning gift opening, so I can still hear and marvel at Mom’s very Southern Virginia accent. My Dad, the retired Army officer, had to run the show, of course, and he was the narrator on the tape. He’d always had me and my siblings gather for breakfast on Christmas morning before we were allowed to open presents. The Williams present opening was a very civilized procedure as each of us opened one present at a time, made appropriate grateful remarks and let everyone see the new gift.

This time, Heidi was the only glitch in the controlled process. At three, she was still new to Christmas, and represented the infectious joy of gift giving.  Since she was allowed to open many of the presents, even when they weren’t for her, she must have thought they were all hers!

Baby Hansi lay on his stomach looking around at everything. He enjoyed the noises and colorful paper and would occasionally be interested in one of his gifts.

To be continued…

One Comment

  1. Becky Rizek says:

    Your Mom, ever elegant and fun,, the perfect officers wife….I wish i had known her , Viki… and how precious your little ones, Hans and Heidi are with their Grandfather.. I would have liked them both,, and identified with them as they remind me of my Dad and mother. There are two things for sure that death cannot steal away from us; that is our love for dear ones, and vivid memories that rest in our minds and souls forever! Looking forward to the next entries. Have a special Christmas my friend; I am sure you will spend it with your kids ? Love… your compadre , Becky.

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