At nineteen I was working in a salon. Next door was a jewelry shop. I had moved into the city. My parents still in our country home.
A home filled with childhood memories. Now our memories would be treasured even more. In April my dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Life as we knew it had changed forever. Daddy's little girl wasn't ready to let go. I didn't believe it could happen. I knew our time would last forever.
I wanted Christmas to be special. One we would never forget. I began thinking of the perfect gifts. I walked into the jewelry shop with the perfect plan. With a little help I designed the perfect gifts. My mom a family tree pendant colored with our birthstones. For her to remember family forever. For my dad a gold watch. Time was the gift he needed. Time remembered and time treasured.
This was the first year I was away from home. I worked each day and saved all I could for these special treasures. Gifts that held such meaning. At nineteen I didn't yet have enough time. I needed more time. If the hands could only stand still. But that was not to happen.
Christmas day arrives. Show is thick on the country roads. Mom would rather I stay home. That isn't an option. This is a day I wouldn't miss for anything. Mom has the house decorated. The tree is covered is brilliant colors. Christmas was always our favorite holiday. I smell the turkey and pies. Mom has been busy. She is so tired and worn. A woman I admire.
While I was doing my gift planning my dad was doing a bit of his own. This is truly the first year neither of us went and did our own shopping.
I went first. A small package wrapped in love. Inside the precious box is a heart pendant on a gold chain. I would wear this heart that would cover my broken one. Mom's turn. She opens her gift and adores her pendant. One that celebrates our life together. Now I hand my gift to my dad. He's already grinning from ear to ear. Nine months into his cancer he's very weak. I may have to have his gift re-sized. Something this daughter didn't even think about. Maybe it was a thought I chose to ignore. My dad was going to get better. "Rob, you didn't have to." "I wanted to, Dad. It's our favorite holiday of all. You deserve something special." He holds it in his hands for some time. Our usual gift unwrapping consisted of ripping and tearing. But he was enjoying this moment. He opens the gift. Paper in the floor. Box open. His eyes meet the treasure and they are smiling brighter than I have seen in a great while.
Maybe it was the jeweler who knew. Maybe God's interceding. It fit perfectly. Tears in his eyes. Arms wrapped around his baby girl. He knew the message. This would be a Christmas I would treasure forever. For just a little while time stood still. Love covered this Christmas Day. It would be our last together. The hands never stopped short. Oh, how I wish we could have just had more. My dad's battle with cancer ended that April One year to the day. The doctors knew. I refused to believe.
We celebrated our December birthdays and Christmas together. Me turning nineteen and Dad turning forty-six. I still have my gold heart pendant. I take it out every so often and remember that last Christmas together.
I told my dad we would share many more Christmas' together. He and I knew that time would not permit. So this daddy's girl dreamed and refused to believe. But the day came that I had to say good-bye. There would be no more Christmas celebrations for us. At least not on this side of heaven.
Today as I look back I treasure our times together. Memories of snowmen and opening gifts extra early. That drove my mother crazy. But it was dad and daughter sharing their favorite day together. See, at the time we thought of Christmas as a holiday. Nothing more. Just time spent together. Presents and snow. There wasn't a Jesus celebration in our home. No faith to hold us tight. But, today I know that two days before my dad died, a pastor came to visit. A friend had invited him to come. He shared Jesus with my dad. My daddy received Jesus as his Savior. He would be heaven bound.
At the time I didn't know the treasure that he beheld. Today I do. A few years later, when I would turn twenty-three, I would meet my husband, and he would share Jesus with me. I came to know my Savior at the age of twenty-four. Somehow I know that God's perfect timing planned it all. I once thought our time was counting down. Now I know our time together will be eternal. Just waiting for the other side of heaven for it to begin. Best of all I will see both my earthly daddy and my heavenly Father. Quite a gift. Christmas forever. The hands of time eternal.