“Mom, you hafta follow the chocolates and read the clues to get your present,” Marika said, over five years ago. And 50 chocolate kisses later I found an elegant dinner of Caesar salad and linguini laced with red sauce, shrimp and scallops. There were flowers on the table. And candles and chocolate cake.
I was not her favorite person. To say the least. But on holidays she was generous. She always had something red for me. A new red sweater, capris, socks. Red velvet cake.
When she died, first I thought all I had left of her was her dog, her clothes, and a few songs. Then came the surprises:
The tiny book she’d made for me when she was eleven, that fell out of my night-table on Christmas Eve after she died. The Welcome Home Mom sign with a rabbit drawn in a heart that I found the day before I left to scatter her ashes in Australia. And her journals with the poems and prose that inspired me to write and then changed my life.
It’s like getting a gift each time I discover something of Marika’s. She died 2 ½ years ago; there can’t possibly be anything more to find of hers, I tell myself.
But last month, putting on her warm fleece jacket, I found a little plastic spoon and a Papa John’s Pizza gift-card for $20 in the pocket. An Old Navy card with $9.56 surfaced in her old closet recently. I found her watch in a box left in the garage. And last week in the mail there was a notice about her inactive investment account.
As the days grow darker and the holidays draw near, I gather all these “gifts.” At this time of the year I used to plan what presents I would give her. And now I consider all the ways she has gifted me.