"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Memory

I've asked all of you to please share a Christmas memory, and since I haven't heard from you, then I will begin. I think a memory I would like to share was the one of Christmas 1968.

At the time, I was living in Columbus, Ohio. I say living there, but I was the oldest of six and brought up pretty strictly by Joe and Joanne Parrish from Elm Street, Coshocton, Ohio, and those long arms of protection stretched pretty far back then. I was allowed to move away from the safety of the family net and our insulated little town, but ONLY if I would agree to live at the YWCA in Columbus. (I know, I know, but it was easier to just do it, than argue about it).

Anyway, Doug graduated from high school two years ahead of me in '65, and was attending Ohio State, living in a dorm on campus. After I graduated in '67, I moved to Columbus to be near him and soon found a job working for an insurance company only a block away from "home" at the Y. We had been dating for three years, by then, and it was nice being on our own for the first time, away from family, and yet we couldn't help but miss them, especially during the holidays.

I remember it was snowing pretty heavily on our hour and a half drive to Coshocton that day before Christmas in 1968.  But the snow only added to the wonderful holiday mystique as we listened to Christmas music on the radio and I sang along -- Doug always whistled the melody and I loved hearing him. How I miss that, even now. It's amazing how the smallest of things come to mean so much.

When we got to my house, Mama and Daddy met us with huge hugs and kisses, as did my siblings. Mama told us we were all going over to the Kempf's for Christmas Eve. This was a little strange, since both families usually spent Christmas Eve at home. Doug didn't stay too long, saying he should really go home and see his Mom and Dad and besides, he had some things he had to do. What seemed even stranger was that Mama insisted we get dressed up -- something which was also out of character. Rather than fuss about it, I wore a dress and heels to please her.

When we arrived at the Kempf's, there was another round of warm hugs and kisses, and we were handed glasses of champagne with the cutest little peach slice in the bottom of the glass. Everyone was aware I wasn't much of a drinker, and when I asked what the peach was for, they all snickered. Mama said, "Honey, when you're all finished having champagne, you're supposed to eat the peach so your hostess will know not to refill the glass."

We sat and talked in front of the Christmas tree for quite awhile. There was Christmas music coming from a radio somewhere in the other room, and I remember how good it felt, all of us together like that. Then it got real quiet and Doug's Mom came around and topped off everyone's glass with more champagne. Everyone was silent and looking at Doug, and at me. Then Doug reached over and took my hand.  He smiled and said, "Cath', I love you, you know that, and more than anything in the world, I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?"

I was totally surprised, and overwhelmed by emotion. I was so happy and I couldn't hold back the tears as he handed me a tiny present wrapped in white paper and a white bow. The ring was beautiful. It was perfect. The tears still followed each other down my cheek, and then Doug's Mom softly said, "Dougie, I think that's a 'yes'." All I could do was nod ... and hug him.

Doug had often hinted about us getting married after he graduated from college, and before he entered med school. I think what made this Christmas so wonderful and so special was the complete surprise it was and the romantic way he chose to ask me, with our parents there, and on Christmas Eve. So perfect.  More champagne was poured and several toasts were made to the newly engaged couple ... and I remember my mother whispering to me, "Honey, I think you've had enough ... eat your peach, eat your peach."

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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1 comment:

  1. [from Facebook page]

    Dawn Harsh Fitch
    How sweet is this!

    CJ Heck
    Thank you, Dawn


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