Contributed by Bob “Oxygen Man” Rawlins, oxygen user and consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~
Canada was always our destination from Christmas through New Year’s.
My mom raised me as a single parent from the ripe old age of 3 until she eventually kicked me out of the house after I graduated from college. She didn’t physically kick me out but strongly urged me to fly the coop. 😊
We had a great relationship, being an only child, which explains many things today, LOL. We spent all our holidays together and she is the reason family is so special to not only me, but all our family.
She was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, and was very close to her sister and brother. They lived in Canada, and that was were the heart of our family was — my Grandad and Nana as well.
My cousins were the closest thing to having brothers. One of them was my best man in both my weddings. We are still close, even though we don’t have the opportunity to see each other as much, but when we do, the world stops, and everything picks up from where we left off.
We have experienced life, kids, jobs, challenges and unfortunately loss of loved ones throughout the years.
Christmas in Canada was so special. We had trips through the snow and weather on our ventures to the “Great North.” I remember as a little boy pretending to be asleep in the back seat — seeing Santa and his sleigh with Rudolph leading the way. Sigh …
We’ve slept in airports, drove through some horrendous weather, but with God’s great grace always found our destination over the holidays.
My Grandad would always sing, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” to my mom and we all cried with tears of happiness.
Nana always got up early with me and had her parakeet greet me with, “Good Morning Bobby.” How she taught a parakeet to say that on cue is still amazing to me today. 😊
We shared Christmas cheer, played charades, and a card game called Hearts (go figure, right?) until late and never went too far from home. The brothers played Risk as we all tried to conquer the world.
We had ping-pong and dart contests. We even dressed up in goalie equipment to pretend we were professional hockey players. One by one we would take our turn allowing the others to fire slap shots and wrist shots at us.
We had visitors in and out all season. It was so awesome and has given me so many memories that I recall every year around this time.
When I got sick and things looked very touch-and-go, my brothers, cousins, traveled down to be with me and my family offering support and love. They never left my bedside until the danger of dying seemed to be passing.
The road would be long from that day on, but we will always support each other. That is what family does.
This journey we are on my friends is all about family support. Or the support of very good friends. We must surround ourselves with that.
My first Christmas after I started to recover was very difficult for me. We did travel to New Jersey as we have in the past to be with family, it was a must.
My Canadian family surprised us with a video call that Christmas evening. It warmed my heart so much.
They were all sitting around the table like we used to do talking among themselves and us. It was like being there.
Time stood still for a moment, I forgot about my illness and the already tough struggles this journey had given to me and my family. Just reminiscing about the memories and creating some new ones with my “brothers” live on a video call.
When we hung up I sobbed a bit – of course I would never do that in front of them because the ribbing would go on for years. LOL.
So, we may be on a very long and tough journey, but we must remember the good things to help us cope as we make new memories with our oxygen in tow.
Today I don’t stay up as late, but that’s just an older age thing. 😊 I cook more now thanks to careful oxygen tube placement, and I enjoy every day of each holiday like I’ve never done before.
So, my first oxygen Christmas has become another wonderful memory and since then I have added new memories along the way.
Enjoy the holiday season my friends! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
PS: Find the mistletoe.
Bob Rawlins, 61, of Medina, Ohio, is husband to Terese and father to their 14-year-old triplets, a soccer coach, a hospital volunteer, band dad and chaperone, and marketing guru. He uses a FreeStyle Comfort portable oxygen concentrator and an eQuinox portable oxygen concentrator for overnight travel.