A Hallmark Rescue

By Beth Pugh

When turning the pages on my calendar year after year, I turn, too, the pages of a mental photo album. It was during the fall my mother fell ill. An intended short stay for an infection stretched out into a month in the hospital after a surprise stroke. It then stretched even further in days and miles with a new location for potential heart surgery. The last-ditch effort slowly unraveled, and Mom’s sickness seeped into the holiday season. She was sent to a nursing home the week of Thanksgiving. Her time there was short; three weeks give or take a few days. She passed exactly two weeks before Christmas from my needy teenage hands into the beckoning arms of the angels.

As her casket closed, the joy of the season dissipated. It drained through my feet, fast and furious like water through a kinked hose that had just been straightened, and I was too weak to try to hold on. Snowmen lost their magic though their hats were still intact. Lights mother and child once smiled at together in the dark dulled. The cheer of beloved tunes vanished though the melody and lyrics remained the same. My ears heard the sharps and flats, but the connection was gone. Loneliness had scrambled the signal, leaving only static to fill my otherwise silent soul.

I had never known lonely until the light of my mother’s smile was hidden from my daily view. All too quickly, though, lonely and I became the closest of compadres. We went everywhere together; school, work, out to lunch. There was never a second when lonely left me alone. It wedged itself deeper into me, creating an ever-widening chasm between me and those around me.

It wasn’t until after I was married I truly learned to handle the pain of missing Mom and began to live again. With my mate by my side, I was certain I’d shaken lonely once and for all. But the winds of autumn proved me wrong as I quickly realized love and lonely are really soul mates.

When a screaming baby boy entered this world, red-faced with lips curled, I was sure I’d beaten lonely, for good this time. Perfection wrapped in a pink and blue bordered blanket was placed in my arms; when I looked at him, he became mine and I, his. Daily my son built a bridge across the canyon in my heart, and I just knew with his arrival the Christmas magic would return. But lonely came first, in the fall, as always.

Every year since Mom’s passing is the same. As the red and yellow leaves fall from branches above my head, a custom-made shroud of solitude cut just for me descends as well. I’ve come to expect it. It needs no invite for it doesn’t mind crashing the party. It’s proven it doesn’t even need a party to crash. Just a heart to hearken, and the hole in mine creates the perfect accommodations.

But Hallmark had other plans, appearing center stage to rescue me from my lonesomeness. It happened late one night. My boy lay asleep cradled in my arms. His much too long for my lap legs hung over my knees and his arm rested thrown back over his head. He was sleeping the sleep only children can while his daddy slumbered in the adjoining recliner on the opposite end of the couch. I was awake, and alone.

Gingerly, I angled myself in reach of the remote control. After a few button pushes, Hallmark arrived on the scene in all its glory. I watched the sweet story of an inn getting ready to be sold. I watched the buyer’s daughter transition from disgust to adoration of the getaway’s charm. I swooned as she fell for the owner’s son. I cheered as they rescued the inn from certain destruction at the hand of the leading lady’s own father. The credits rolled, and so did my tears.

Growing up, times were tough. My family was seemingly always strapped for cash, but Mom kept me distracted from missing the things we couldn’t afford by showering me with the things we could. Feel-good TV was one of those things. During December, we reminded each other of when “Countdown to Christmas” started on the Family Channel so not to miss it. It was the highlight of our season. For us, it was more than just screen time. It was an experience together, memories made I now cherish.

Hallmark reminded me of those times as it washed away my loneliness that fateful night. I felt my mother closer than I had in years. Sad sobs turned joyous as my shroud of solitude was replaced with the warmth of the season created by my mother’s love. I wrapped it around me tighter and soaked up all the magic my mother had created during my childhood.

I am excitedly counting down the days until the biggest movie event of the year, for me at least, begins. As its arrival draws closer, my heart quickens. Joy peeks its head above the shadow autumn initially cast, and the loneliness my holiday season used to come wrapped up in is torn to shreds. I have Mom to thank for that.

And Hallmark movies.

About this writer

  • Beth Pugh

    Beth Pugh

    Beth Pugh is a wife, mother and daughter striving to live a life of contentment, like baby bear soup. She hopes telling her stories help others to do the same.

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One Response to “A Hallmark Rescue”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Your story touched my heart. Thank you for sharing your emotional journey.

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