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Dad and the Christmas Ornament

Three years ago, my father went into the hospital in September and although he managed to get home for a few short visits, he continued to deteriorate until he passed  a few days before Christmas… as I had predicted months earlier… Christmas was always a very special time for our family, a time when we gathered to share food and gifts and a lot of laughter… but Dad would always get very anxious at that time of year and very often would end up somehow spoiling some of the fun for my mother… he couldn’t relax until we were all together again…. so it seemed rather fitting for him to choose that time to go… it was interesting how he tracked time in his last weeks – we had to get him a new watch, even though he had a big clock on the wall  facing his hospital bed… he was constantly checking that his watch was in sync with the wall clock… it was as if he knew exactly when he would go and was counting down the days and the hours.

Towards the end, my mother’s sister came to stay with her. After the funeral I wanted to get her a little something special to let her know how much we had appreciated her support in those difficult days.  I knew she loved Royal Doulton, so I found her a very beautiful Christmas ornament.  I intended to give it to her the day before she was leaving, when  we were all going out to lunch. The night before, I set the ornament out on the kitchen table to remember to bring it… but when I reached for it in the morning, it was nowhere to be found. Neither my son nor our housemate had seen it or even knew what I was talking about. We searched everywhere, but the package  was not to be found… That afternoon, I rushed back to the store and found another one for my aunt…  the missing ornament remained a mystery… I had a strong feeling my father had a hand in its disappearance, his way of letting us know he was still with us… he was always up for a bit of mischief, and especially liked this aunt.. … So when I gave her the replacement, I joked with her that once she got to the other side, she should ask Dad for the matching ornament…

I thought I might have to wait until I crossed over myself to solve the mystery of the missing ornament… but last summer I was rooting through my linen closet,  tidying it up when I came upon a parcel tucked at the back of one of the higher shelves… yes, there it was, that Royal Doulton Christmas Ornament that we had searched high and low for… how it got into that little-used cupboard is anyone’s guess… but I’m betting on Dad.  I can see his eyes twinkling, the silly grin on his face, laughing as he tells me that he has no idea how the ornament disappeared…

But I only thought the mystery had been solved… thinking to give it a special place with my decorations this year, I just went looking for it… it’s gone again, disappeared into thin air once more… I wonder where it will show up next?

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