Two daughters recall Nantucketers’ holiday generosity
To the Editor:
This is a true, first-person account of our heartwarming Christmas last year, totally provided by several lifelong Nantucket friends of my mother, Hazel A. Brady, who was a native Nantucketer.
Those in this part of the country who have heard what these Nantucketers did were amazed a their generosity, their love, and their inspired Christmas spirit. Where else but from Nantucketers!
Mom’s many Nantucket friends wanted to send something special to Mom for Christmas last year. They called our Oklahoma home in December and insisted upon flying my husband, Bill, and I to my twin sister’s home in Cumberland, Maine where Mom was staying during her radiation treatments. We were to be their surprise Christmas gifts to Mom. Overwhelmed by their generosity and insistence, we happily complied and arrived in Maine a few days before Christmas. Her friends in Nantucket anxiously waited by phone to hear of our secret arrival.
With great excitement my sister’s husband, Skip, met us at the airport and helped my husband into a rented Santa suit which made him look ridiculously funny. Laughing all the way, Skip drove into his garage where he hid us away to wait for our entrance cue. We could hear Mom and my sister, Linda, chatting with him inside which caused Bill and I to become silly with anticipation.
Meanwhile trying to restrain our laughter, I stepped into a huge garbage bag with tiny airholes, tied with a big, red bow, and uncomfortably hunched on a dolly. Then the phone rang. We could hear Mom talking to her Nantucket friends who had impatiently called too soon. From inside the garbage bag, this delay seemed an eternity. Finally the flashing-light cue came, and Santa and I made our grand entrance at last. I held onto that tilted dolly for dear life and prayed not to fall off.
“Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas ! Have I got a gift for you! This Christmas gift,” Santa said to Mom as he wheeled me in on the dolly, “is a very convenient kitchen appliance…perhaps a trash compactor, maybe a dishwasher. Whatever it is, I guarantee you are going to love this gift!” Mom giggled constantly, convinced Santa was my sister’s neighbor, never once noticing his Oklahoma accent. Mom’s reaction, as well as the comical sight of suddenly seeing Bill dressed as Santa, sent my sister into fits of hysterical laughter. This proved contagious.
As the merriment intensified, I suddenly popped out of the garbage bag; then Santa removed his beard and granny glasses. I will never forget the amazed and thrilled look on Mom’s face and her sidesplitting laughter. She was so overcome with surprise, joy and delight that the laughter seldom stopped the entire trip.
The video camera was on much of the time, so we captured many memorable moments. Moments like the day Mom prepared our favorite meat stuffing while imitating Julia Child; the laughter-filled evenings she failed to keep a straight face while trying to bluff us during a Scattegories game; her howling laughter over what she calls ‘twin-foolery” when Skip successfully passed me off that day as his wife to very close friends of he and my twin sister; how blessed we felt to be together again at the Christmas Eve midnight service held in a lovely old steepled church on a gorgeous star-filled night; Mom’s explosive laughter on Christmas morning when “TI-M-B-E-R” the tree fell over while I was under it retrieving a package; her amusement over the mock hunting expedition our husbands staged in the woods behind the house where all they bagged was a stuffed toy reindeer. Well, one really had to be there, but it all received the highest rating by Mom as the best video ever. She said she would always cherish Christmas of 1990 as deeply meaningful and as one comical event after another.
In our presence and with great courage, Mom passed on five months later in her Nantucket home on May 31, 1991. Her friends and family miss her terribly, especially her fun-loving nature and her joyful laughter.
She always said she was truly blessed with the best friends in all the world. Their generous act lovingly demonstrated the Christmas spirit of giving in a unique and profound way. Thanks to them all, the memory of Mom’s last Christmas is a treasured gift that will live on with a smile and will never ever be forgotten!
Dedicated to the terrific friends of Hazel A. Brady and to her loving memory — The Brady Twins