What is Your Best Christmas Present?

Teyla Rachel Branton and Dad

I hope you are almost ready for Christmas! I am working on two books at once, which is something I rarely do, but I’m anxious to have them both out. I thought I’d have excerpts up on my website this week, but that won’t be until after Christmas. Thank you so much for your patience and support.

As to why the delay . . . here’s a little story about the best Christmas present. Now there are many kinds of gifts, but some lead you to remember what is truly important, and those are the kinds of presents that stay in your heart . . . well, forever.

The Best Christmas Present

One memory I have as a child is of a snowy winter when a cat abandoned a litter of kittens in our carport. My father brought them inside, put them on a towel on the heater vent and fed them with an eyedropper. This stands out to me because my father didn’t particularly appreciate the cats (ours or the strays) or how many litters they kept dropping, but he couldn’t stand to see the tiny blind kittens mewing for help.

I don’t remember if the kittens survived. But my father bending over them, with compassion in his eyes, is something I will never forget. This was the kind of man he was.

Grandpa with Liana

My dad play fighting with one of my daughters in March 2015.

In November 2015, my dad went into the hospital with his seventeenth bleeding ulcer. He had a gastric bypass (his second) and was in the hospital for three weeks. Several times we thought we’d lose him, which seemed unbelievable because it had been five years since his last bleed and he was incredibly careful with his diet and exercise. Two of my sisters and I took turns sitting with him around the clock. At one point we called all eight children to come to say goodbye. Thankfully, he pulled through. We know that our support was the deciding factor in his survival.

Déjà Vu

Two days before Thanksgiving this year (2016), the day after he turned eighty, my father was in the hospital again. Surprisingly, this time it wasn’t with a stomach bleed but with double pneumonia and heart issues. They gave him antibiotics, but besides that there is little they can do. Because my dad has had fifteen surgeries for his many stomach bleeds and can’t take blood thinners, he can’t have the surgery he needs for his heart.

He was only in the hospital a week this time, and my sister Mary split that time with me at the hospital. I remember coming home at seven Thanksgiving morning and putting in the turkey for the family and relatives that would soon arrive, but the real Thanksgiving was in my heart. As I sat in the hospital, caring for him, rubbing his back with ointment, chatting, or getting him something to eat, my strong father was every bit as helpless as a blind little kitten. I stored away all those little memories, grateful for that time with my dad, my best editor, my friend.

How much time it will be, we don’t know. The plot of this story is not yet decided. But he’s much happier at home, so maybe the doctor’s estimation of six months will be off. I’m betting on him, that’s for sure. He’s already up and walking laps around the house and researching alternative medications.

This year for me Christmas came early. My father is the best Christmas present.

Your Best Present?

I would love to hear what your best present was, even if it didn’t come at Christmas. Drop me a line if you find the time, or post here.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

UPDATE October 27, 2022

We lost my father on October 25, 2022, a month before his eighty-sixth birthday. His heart managed to hang for six years instead of the six months the doctor predicted. He spent a little over two weeks in the hospital this time, and for one of those weeks I fly home to be there with him every day. He was determined to go home, and he died the night they released him from the hospital.

My heart is broken, and it seems the world has stopped spinning as I grieve. Still, I am grateful for the extra years we had with him. I tell myself, as my heart aches with a pain that is both emotional and physical, that he at least is no longer in the great pain he dealt with every day. That is is now with his beloved mother and my youngest sister Sarah. My husband says he stayed this long for us. Maybe so. I still don’t want to let him go.

My Parents

My parents at the 2022 Fourth of July Picnic.

Teyla Rachel Branton

 

 

Copyright 2016 Teyla Rachel Branton

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40 Responses to “What is Your Best Christmas Present?”

  1. Deb

    My best Christmas was the year I was ou0t of work with my hip surgery and hubby was unable employed. My mom and dad and my brother and sister help pay our bills. I was so touched.

    Reply
  2. Grandma Kitty

    Sorry, my last comment “sounded “ like my greatest blessing was my mother dying-not so. Being able to tell her l love her one last time was a huge blessing.

    Reply
  3. Grandma Kitty

    I feel your pain-just lost my mother recently, my father a few months earlier. So sorry. One of my greatest blessings is my mother was ill and I was able to attend to her needs.
    When I left her room, l said,”See you tomorrow. I love you.” She died that night. My words were the last thing she heard. She died in her sleep. Huge blessing; not Christmas.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      It is a huge honor to be able to help a parent at the end of their lives. You learn so much about them and yourself. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  4. Patricia Nord

    I am so sorry for your loss. I understand what you are going through. I lost both my parents, mom in 1994 and my dad in 1999. There is no words to express how this feels to lose a parent. You will always have the wonderful memories and feel his presence. My prayers are with you and you loved ones. May God comfort and give you peace.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Thank you so much. And I am very sorry you lost your too. It is heartbreaking. I know with experience that after a year, the grief softens but it still never goes away, does it?

      Reply
  5. Nelvy

    I am so sorry for your loss Teyla. There are no word to easy your pain and fill the emptiness. Know that this shall also pass. The sweet memories will take over your intense pain and the days will be more manageable. This is just part of our mortality but remember your dad will be always in Your heart and watching over you from a different sphere until you see him again as we are promised. My prayers are with you and your family.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Thank you so much for the kind words. It is getting a bit easier, except today I have to prepare his life sketch, and it makes me really sad. It know it will be all right.

      Reply
  6. SARAH TAYLOR

    I am so very sorry for your loss Teyla my heart goes out to you and your Family! A Loss of a Parent is never easy As I Lost both of my Parents ! I know someday I will rejoice with them and My Husband and all my Loved ones in Heaven! Hugs coming and Prayers

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I am very sorry you lost your parents. It is heartbreaking. Thank you for the prayers and kind words!

      Reply
  7. karen weakland

    I am so sorry! Nothing that I can say will ease your pain but please know that your dad will always be with you and loves you!

    Reply
  8. Theresa Cage

    I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers go out to you and your family! Always remember the wonderful times that you had with your dad. Keep them close to your heart, then one day you will see him again when you get to heaven!

    Reply
  9. Mickey

    I lost my Dad to cancer when he was 55 and my Mom to cancer when she was 67. One day I realized that,sadly, I wasn’t anyone’s little girl anymore. I am blessed though with many happy, happy memories. I’m sure your family has that also to give you comfort. May God bless you and your family and give you strength as you grieve.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Oh, how heartbreaking! I can see that I have been blessed indeed to have my parents so long. Hugs to you!

      Reply
  10. James

    I am so very sorry to hear about your father! No matter how long they are here, losing them is not something we can ever be ready for. I cling to the hope that we will be reunited with all of our loved ones one day and I think about how joyous that will be.

    Reply
  11. Mary Kappes

    My best Christmas present ever was given to me on December 24th, 2001! My first grand baby Montana!
    Sending many prayers to you and your family at the loss of your Dad!

    Reply
  12. Gail Hollingsworth

    I am so very sorry for the loss of your father. Losing parents is hard. I’m technically an “orphan” as of Thanksgiving day 2017. (My mom was 83)
    My dad passed away at age 46 of a massive stroke when I was 5 months pregnant with his first grandchild. I was so thankful that he was there a year before that to walk me down the aisle.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Gail. It is heartbreaking. My mom is eighty and alone now (we’ve all been trying to get her to come live with or near us), and I my mind simply can’t imagine losing her too. Hugs to you!

      Reply
  13. Jen

    I lost my mom to pneumonia in March of 2021. She was only 61 and it was completely unexpected. She was my best friend and it still stinks every single day that she’s not here, that I can’t call or text her for advice or to just talk. One day at a time and give yourself grace. It is truly a traumatic event.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I am glad she was your best friend, and that you saw how much she loved you. Some kids don’t see their parents that way. It does hurt so much that we can’t just call them. Hugs to you!

      Reply
  14. Mary. Skinner

    So sorry about your father’s passing. May the Lord give you comfort and strength to get through this time. Let those good memories of him comfort your hurting heart. He is always with you through the memories.

    Reply
  15. Barbara

    Best present was Jack rocks and paper dolls and easy bake oven.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I remember buying an Easy Bake oven for my girls. They loved it, lol, but really only used it a handful of times.

      Reply
  16. Barbara

    So sorry for your loss but rejoice that he’s celebrating up in heaven now.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I am trying to imagine his reunion with his beloved mother and my little sister! Thanks!

      Reply
  17. Alicia Haney

    I am so very sorry for your loss, my Heartfelt Condolences to you and your family . May he Rest In Peace. When I lost my dad in 2005 and when I lost my mom in 2019, it was both bittersweet, they were both hurting so much towards the end. It was very sad losing them, but then I was happy that they were not suffering anymore, they had both been sick. Take good care of yourself my friend. God Bless you and your family.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      You are right. It’s a comfort that he no longer has to feel the pain. I will try to remember that!

      Reply
  18. Beverley MacMillan

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. It is very hard to lose someone who means so much to us. I lost my husband on September 21st this year to cancer. He survived 11 years which I could not have asked for more from him. It is very hard to say goodbye, but sometimes we must for there sake. I am trying to keep busy reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, going to grandsons hockey games. He will always be in my heart until we meet again.
    Take care. One day at a time.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      Thank you for sharing! I am glad you have found hope and books! It really does help to stay occupied. Hugs to you!

      Reply
  19. Lauri L

    A few years ago my now 92-year-old mother called me and said she needed to go to the ER because she was having problems with her urinary tract. That was one of the most scary things that had happened up to that point. I had to get my brother involved. Luckily they sorted things out and she was able to come home. To me, still having her here is a present. There have been more moments similar but when she does pass, I will only concentrate on the good she has brought to my life. I am spinal cord injured and she was there when I needed her.

    Reply
    • Teyla Rachel Branton

      I’m so happy to hear that you still have her! And you’re right, having her alive IS a present!

      Reply
  20. charlene capodice

    I am so very sorry about the loss of your father! It is so heartbreaking. Sending you hugs and prayers and to all your family. He will always be with you in your heart.

    Reply

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