Christmas arrived, and we were greater with a two year old climbing—or at least trying to—in our bed. I reached with my good arm and pulled Kyle up by his diaper. He straddled me and bent down to give me a big wet kiss. “Paw-Paw, it’s Chissmas, time to wake up.”
“Oh?” I asked. It was early, and I wondered if Kyle snuck into our room or if he was told to come in our room. Either way it was a delight to see his excitement about this holiday. “Why do we have to wake up?”
“Chissmas!” He cheered. He nudged Hana’s arm, “Nana, it’s Chissmas, wake up!”
“Sleep,” she mumbled into her pillow.
“What’s so special about Christmas, KyKy?” I asked.
“Were you a good boy?”
“Da best,” his hands shot out to show me how good of a boy he was.
I chuckled, and started to tickle Kyle. He rolled off of me and over onto Hana. I sat up to tickle him harder. His laughter was piercing and fun. I loved making him laugh. Hana rolled over and laughed with Kyle and I. When he started to beg for mercy, I stopped. He in turned tried to tickle me. “Oh I’m not ticklish, Ky.”
“Get his feet.”
I jumped out of bed, and Kyle made a chase for my feet. We ran around the bedroom. “Nana, help me,” I laughed as Kyle tickled my feet. I was laughing on the floor. He let up only after he noticed grandpa was missing an arm. He gasped and pointed. “Paw-paw! You have no arm!”
I don’t usually sleep with my arm on, so it wasn’t surprising for Kyle to notice. “Oh no!” I gasped. “What do you think happened? Maybe Santa stole it.”
Kyle gasped, “Were you bad?”
“I dunno. Ask Nana.”
Kyle turned to Hana, “Was Paw-Paw bad? Is that why he lost his arm? Did Santa punish him?”
Hana shook her head, “Parker, you’re going to scare the boy. No, sweetie, remember how Paw-Paw wears a metal arm?” Kyle nodded like a bobble head. “He takes it off to sleep. You know, like when you take off his eye patch, he can do that with his arm.”
My grandson was use to seeing me without my patch. He often took it off of me since he was a baby and was able to grab things. It was a shock for the entire family to see me without it when Kyle first pulled it off my head. Now, when he did it—because he still did—no one minded.
“Yup,” I said as I stood up. I went and grabbed my hand off my nightstand and showed him.
“Can I hold it?”
“No,” I shook my head. “It’s not a play thing, Kyle. It’s my arm.” I slid it on my stub and worked the buttons to make it connect with my arm’s neurons. Science was great when it came out of SIA. This type of arm was still being “developed” for the public. “See,” I shook my hand at him.
“Now your eye.”
“Right,” I grabbed my patch and put it on my head. “Is that better?”
“You still only have your undies on, Paw-Paw.”
“I do.” I got quickly dressed in some sweats before I picked him up. “Okay, sport. Let’s go downstairs and see what Santa brought you.”
“Nana?” He asked over my shoulder.
“I will be right down. I have to get dressed, and put on my wig.”
Downstairs, the house was quiet with people lying everywhere on the floor. Jamie and Carter were nowhere to be found. I put my finger up to my mouth and shh’d Kyle. “Have to be quiet. Everyone’s still asleep.” He nodded and followed my motion with his finger up to his mouth. We headed straight for the Christmas tree that had many gifts around it all for everyone. Toys were scattered around it as well. Fire trucks, and Cars. All kinds of little boy toys were on the floor for Kyle.
I put him on the floor and he rushed for the toys. He forgot the quiet rule when he turned on the fire engine and rolled the truck around his body.
I chuckled. Joe, whose head was next to the truck, woke instantly to the siren. I watched him calm his breathing. He sat up and I tried hard not to laugh. “Jeez, I thought that was a real alarm,” he said to me.
“Kyle snuck into my room.”
“And not Kaliq’s?”
“Probably was locked. We keep our door unlocked now…just in case.” I headed across the room to the kitchen and put a pot of coffee on while Kyle played with his toys. Jahi and Dani started to wake-up and eventually joined Joe and I. Oni and Dan made their way to the kitchen shortly after. By eight in the morning everyone downstairs was sitting around the tree with coffee in hands and Hana was cooking breakfast with Cait, Jahi, and Dani.
Carter rushed out of the garage along with Kaliq about eight-thirty. The elevator door opened and Jamie rolled out. All three of them had scared faces. “He’s fine,” I said to them. “He’s enjoying Santa’s gifts.”
Carter sighed in relief and sat on a chair off the island counter. He pillowed his head on the counter with his arms, and I watched as he tried to gain his breath. “Scared the hell out of me. Woke up and Kyle was out of his crib.”
“Daddy!” Kyle screamed—and probably woke the rest of the house up. “Daddy, look what Sandy Claws brought me.”
Carter turned and picked up Kyle. “Kyle, you scared me. Why did you leave our room?”
“Sandy Claws. Paw-Paw helped me downstairs.”
“You know you’re not supposed to leave without telling Papa or me where you’re going. You really scared us. Even Grandpa Kal was scared.”
“Gwampa was scared?”
“I sure was,” Kaliq said.
“I sowwy. Can I go play?”
Carter let Kyle down to the floor, “Go have fun. Give Papa a kiss though.” Kyle ran into Jamie’s legs and pulled himself up onto the wheelchair and Jamie. Kaliq, Carter and I laughed as he hugged Jamie and apologized. Jamie tickled him until Kyle escaped and fell to the floor. He ran to his toys and stuck his tongue out at Jamie, who in turn copied the gesture.
Riddle made her way down and joined Hana, Cait, Jahi, and Dani in cooking breakfast. It took another hour before we were all around two tables and Casey and Rose joined us. We ate the huge breakfast of waffles and pancakes with different fruit toppings and fruit salads.
After we ate we sat and opened gifts. The family did Secret Santa this year since we had so many over. Hana and I, obviously didn’t enter it since we were the parents and grandparents of everyone. We did ask no one to give us anything. Did they listen, absolutely not. However, Kaliq said he had to get me a different gift—and I knew then that he got me a bottle of Vodka. I thanked him for the thought and appreciated the sentiment. Towards the end the only gifts that weren’t open were the ones Hana and I were giving to everyone. Hana started to pass out the gifts slowly. “Now I know you all said you didn’t need anything from us, but your Dad and I wanted you all to have something special.” Inside the box was a picture that Hana and I had taken just shortly before she was diagnosed. She also wrote a customized letter to everyone, while I bought a gift card for everyone. Hana watched everyone open the boxes, and some even pulled out the envelopes. She stopped them all before they opened them. “You can read the letter now, or when I’m gone, but I wanted everyone to know how special you all are to me.” Hana handed one to Carter for Kyle to open—although he got more than that from us—the letter to him is for when he’s older.”
Carter nodded, “We’ll keep it safe for him. Promise.”
“Good.” Hana turned and grabbed the last and final box and handed it to me.
My hands started to shake as I took it from her. “Hana, we promised,” I croaked out. We promised no gifts. “You know I didn’t want anything.”
“I know, but you need this,” She said to me. “You’ll always need it.”
I opened the box to find a huge scrapbook with our names on the cover with our wedding picture. The first page was my undoing. It had a bracelet taped to the page—the same one I bought her when I was fourteen. She initially told me that she wasn’t allowed to have gifts, so I hid it in her bag she held just before she left the market. I wiped my cheek of tears. I couldn’t believe she kept the bracelet all these years.
I turned the page to find my medical bracelet and a picture of me and her in the hospital. I had a bandage across both my eyes still. I chuckled at my look. I was hideous. “I don’t remember this picture.” I told her. I continued to turn the page to find more hospital pictures. It went on to when she moved to Bridgeport with me. Our whole lives were in the book together. Pictures and sentimental heirlooms were stuck to the pages. After Kaliq’s first birthday, however it changed. A few of the pages were dedicated to Kaliq’s books, and some news articles. There were other little articles that were printed out about Delta Nine. The one thing that hit me though were pages that looked torn out from a journal—Hana’s journal. They were all letters to me from the twenty years we were apart. I didn’t read them, not now. I couldn’t. It was all too much right then. I would though—eventually, when I was alone.
I turned another page of letters to find more pages of us together for the last twenty plus years. Tears fell from my eye, and it was harder to read and appreciate the next page and the next. When did Hana do all of this? Our entire lives together were in one book. At the end of the book an enveloped was taped to the back cover on the inside. I shook my head as I held it. I wasn’t going to read it, at least not until I was ready. I still had my Hana, and I didn’t need to read a letter from her quite yet.
I stood and hugged Hana tight as I cried on her shoulder. “I can’t let you leave me,” I cried on her shoulder. “There needs to be a lifetime of more pages. It’s not enough.”
“I know,” she cried with me. “That’s why we have the next few months to add to that book. Okay?”
I pulled out of the hug and gave her a salty wet teary kiss. “When did you have time to make that book?”
She smiled, “The day I went to Paris while you played spy on our honeymoon I bought that book. I’ve worked on it since. That first page I made that day.”
“You kept the bracelet?”
“Park, I wore that bracelet for years before it finally fell off. Had to hide it from Asmeed, but yes I kept it. I knew even then I loved you.”