Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Christmas 1986 with Emily Heebner

Christmas night 1986, I was lounging on the couch with my dear mother who was ill with cancer. She in her owl glasses, bathrobe and slippers reading a newspaper, I in worn out pajamas from my former bedroom upstairs. The tv was playing Albert Finney's "Scrooge," followed by Peter O'Toole's "Good-bye, Mr. Chips."

The rest of our family, consisting of Dad plus my two adult sisters, was scattered around the two-story five bedroom tract house in Williamsville, a suburb of Buffalo, a place I've grown to miss more and more.

The family home used to face a mile long stretch of fields and creeks with fushia sunsets and a seasonal ice rink, shallow and bumpy from winds. You could ice skate forever under a black sky bedecked by stars as bright as any rural night sky. Now houses, streets and lamp posts stand in for the fields. They dull the night sky.

Mom and I barely spoke as we snuggled on our ancient couch enjoying the cinematic Christmas myths. I was writing and rewriting a letter to a young man from D. C. by the name of Young, inviting him to visit me in New York in January to see a play I'd written. I had become "single" earlier that year, having exited a long term relationship, and now Albert Finney's Scrooge was singing about being "able to begin again."

"Dear Eric," I wrote in the first draft of the letter to this nice guy I'd met several times, "Please bring your adorable, lanky, radio-voice self to New York to see my play. I live alone so you can stay with me in my cozy apartment for the weekend!"

More proper version: "Dear Eric, Why don't you come to New York to see my play and stay over for the weekend?"

Most proper version: "Dear Mr. Young, you are cordially invited to see my play and sleep on my couch."

By this time Mom and I were mid-way through "Mr. Chips," and Petula Clark and the boys were singing the question, "Will I fill the world with love my whole life through?" Mother and I snuggled closer. It was to be her second to last Christmas on earth.
The following year, Eric Young and I were visiting my folks for Christmas with an album full of photos from our recent wedding in Buffalo. Mom had worn her own wedding dress, a copper satin tea-length frock that she'd been pleased to fit into. It had been a glorious day.

Now Eric and I are college professors in California where a friend of ours refers to Eric as "Mr. Chips." We did indeed begin our lives again as we're now approaching our thirty-second Christmas together.

A prayer for Christmas 2019: May we "fill the world with love our whole lives through."

Emily Heebner


Mary Morgan said...

Oh, Emily, this is a beautiful post. You had me reaching for the tissues--in a good way. Thanks for sharing. And Happy Holidays!

Emily Heebner said...

Thank you, Mary! You warm my heart! Thanks for reading and writing (:
Best wishes to you and yours!

Judith Sterling said...

A wonderful post, Emily, and I love that you and Eric are still together. My family and I watch "Scrooge" with Albert Finney every year, and that song is so inspirational. Happy holidays!

Emily Heebner said...

Thank you, Judith! So cool that you watch "Scrooge." Albert Finney is our all time favorite actor in that role (:

Unknown said...

Heartwarming story, Emily. Merry Christmas, my love! Eric

Teri said...

What a cozy Christmas memory of you with your beloved mother. And How fun to read about you and Eric—back in the beginning of your relationship. Next time I see him, I’ll call him Mr. Chips too!

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