My dad loved Christmas. He was involved in all of it, and before Martha Stewart even gave it a thought, he would go out in the yard to cut evergreens for our Nativity set. When it came to buying a gift for Mom, he'd take one of us girls with him to help pick out something. The year his cancer had come back, and he was knocked flat most days by his treatment, he was still determined to go out and find her present. A few days before Christmas, we all went to the mall, Mom included, to shop. Because I didn't live close by and really hadn't been able to help much, I offered to go with Dad while Mom and my sisters did their shopping.
Walking with him was a slow process, but we got to Mom's favorite store and he took his time finding her something, and when he did he was pretty pleased with himself. We had plenty of time left before we needed to meet up with everybody else, so I found a bench for him to sit on. I still had some things to shop for and he told me he'd be content to rest and people watch.
I would go into a store, run out to check on him, go to another store, check on him. This lasted nearly an hour and then we had to make the long, slow walk to meet Mom and my sisters. He was exhausted. Happy to have gotten out and more than happy to be going home to bed.
That was 22 years ago and I remember every minute of it, down to the gift he bought Mom. I think we all knew that was going to be his last Christmas with us, and attempting to make it seem normal was a difficult thing to do. For every time I approached that bench at the mall, I saw Dad......so sick and trying so hard.