Mom the Christmas Tree

by | Jul 15, 2018

The following is a chapter from my book Blue Skyways. It’s a personal account of my mom’s slide. For those of you who are blessed to have an older person in your life, you will understand. Thanks for reading.

Mom the Christmas Tree

She was like a Christmas tree ~ tall and full and smothered from top to bottom with lights and decorations, each one a symbol of who she was. Mom the master gardener. Mom the splendid cook. Mom the mother of six. Mom who traveled from Iran through India to escape the fall of the Shah, children in tow. The seamstress. The devourer of books. The safe harbor for Vietnamese boat people. The math whiz. The artist.

Then the lights began to go out, one by one, slowly at first, then snowballing.


We both laughed it off at first. She was still mostly illuminated back then. Still driving. Still taking tai chi, at age 90. Still learning French. Always learning French.

That was three years ago.

Now she mostly sits silent. She no longer reads or goes out. She watches TV but cannot tell you what she’s seen. The woman who has seen the four corners of the world remembers little, but she seems happy.

It’s as if all the lights on the tree have gone out save one ~ the brilliant angel at the top. From that one light I can still see the dim outline of our tree, still full, still alive, with its many decorations, the experiences of a lifetime, all still there, glowing like ghosts in the fading light.

Mom the Christmas tree.

Although I can barely see her anymore, I know she will light up again…in another time and place, more brilliantly than ever.



Mom passed away in her sleep on Thanksgiving day, 2019, at the age of 94. She was an amazing and inspiring woman. My full eulogy to her is found in Chapter 35 of Blue Skyways, entitled “The Passing.”

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