kfujioka

Christmas in Volant.. and the wood just kept coming

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2009 at 7:16 am

Christmas was important to dad even though we never saw him. We heard him. Mom and I would be dressing the ham and hear the comforting sound of his axe hit the wood, whack… whack…. wack… then a groan as he lifted the pile and his ski boots padding through the snow toward the house. He’d stop at the door to throw them in and then he was gone. But he died in 1970 and we all missed him, and still do.

My brother would take his place. Fred, and his wife would come in around 1pm and Fred would take off his boots at the front door and carry them in, kiss mom in the kitchen, then put them on again and go out the back door to chop wood for the fireplace. The girls were inside with the pig. The man outback cutting wood. That was before she married Stan.

Stan changed everything and nothing. He was quiet too, assuming his place out back at the wood pile….whack…whack …whack…then the back door would open and the freshly cut wood suddenly appeared. My brother had two children by then and his youngest, Heather, would cling to mom’s legs as she moved from the sink to the stove and back to the sink. When the top half of mother’s body seemed to disappear into the refrigerator, Heather would cry out in delight. “Peek a boo!”

But last Christmas, before mom sold the house, it was different. It was me. Just me. On the phone long distance listening to her words drift in and out of the tiny holes in the ear piece of the mobi, from Volant, PA to Takasaki Japan and back again.

She was nervous about my brother coming through in the snow. They had to drive all the way from Pittsburgh. There was a blizzard warning. The tv screen showed a red tape warning sign at the bottom and beeped loudly in between the verbal warning not to go out in the weather. The nurse had called me before mother got on, explaining the weather situation and mother’s agitation.

“They’ll be coming soon, mother” I assured her. It was already 1:30pm in EST in the U.S. He was only 30 minutes late.
I sat on the futon on the tatami mat floor, with my husband still laying down. It was 2:30 am on the 26th. I turned on the night light, keeping the phone cradled to my neck. It was hard to hear her. She was talking to the nurse in the background. I waited for her to return on the other end. I looked at my husband who was sitting up now, looking at his watch, making a face. ($3.40 a minute in dead silence.) I shrugged. Then her voice came back on strong and clear, almost excited.
“I hear Richard out back.” she giggled.
“Richard?” I asked.
“Your father’s getting the wood ready.”
I sighed.
Father had been dead since 1970.
My brother’s voice came on the phone. I felt relieved. I spoke to my sister-in –law and nieces and nephew. It was Christmas again. And like all the years before, the wood just kept coming.

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