Nana Candle

WordWulf By WordWulf, 16th Dec 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

It is Christmas time. Maggie struggles with the passing of her husband and the responsibility of her grandson.

Nana Candle (a Christmas story)

Sitting on her sofa in the living room, Maggie stared entranced at the gaily twinkling lights on the Christmas tree. Closing her eyes, she breathed in its wonderful and natural pine scent. The outdoorsy smell reminded her of camping trips in the mountains. Her son Michael and husband Michael were roasting marshmallows over the campfire in her mind. She smiled and reached for them with a trembling hand.

A vivid memory of Big Mike's voice interrupted her. The errant hand joined its mate in her lap. "Just think, Darlin'," he said, "When Mikey goes off to college, we can get us one of those little four foot trees in a box. They come with lights attached. Ya just plug 'em in, hang whatever ornaments you want on 'em and you're all set! No drivin' and cuttin', no needles all over the place."

"Mike, I do so love the way they... Oh!" She opened her eyes and buried her face in her hands. "I am not going to cry!" she admonished herself. A single tear slipped out and she flicked it away with her fingers. She remembered them very well, those seven Christmases past. Reliving them was like thumbing a recipe card file, a flutter of Maggie's years in three by five clicks.

All those seven years ago she lost her Big Mike. He was larger than life and after that he was larger than death. She and Mikey distributed his ashes amongst the pines in his favorite camping spot. How he loved his Colorado home, the clear spitting splendor of the Rocky Mountains. The first couple of years after his death, while Mikey was away at college, she visited the spot. It felt better than the cemetery where he had never been while living, more like a part of him. He wasn't there though, not in one place or the other. A large part of what she was, what her life had stood for, Big Mike, was just gone.

Five years ago Mikey met a girl. She was a wild thing. Anybody could see that, anybody but Mikey that is. He brought her home to meet Maggie but she soon got bored. Mikey gave Mom a wink, cut his visit short, and took her back to that wild college town and all their doings. Maggie gave her own arm a pinch. “Listen to you,” she chastised herself, “Sitting around with your maudlin thoughts like a bitter old woman, better off to count your blessings.” But she was unable to stop herself. She thought of Mikey's girl as the awful wonderful. The awful being that she would steal Maggie's son and wonderful, the baby boy she left him with when she finally lit out for greener pastures.

Now Maggie was Nana and Mikey was Big Mike. Mikey’s Little Mikey was Mikey and how Maggie loved that little boy. She was reluctant at first to take him in but Mikey, her son, begged her to take care of him. He had decided to leave college to pursue a career singing in a rock band, of all things. These four years later, Maggie knew that Little Mikey had provided her with that proverbial "new lease on life." Now she had this terrible news to share with him, more than any child should have to bear. The first thing she did after she got the message was bundle up Mikey and take him to the Christmas tree lot. He skipped from tree to tree, sure the special one would speak to him, "Take me home with you."

"Rock stars and airplanes in the middle of winter." Maggie was wringing her hands nervously. The box tree was outside in the trash. The real tree with the voice that only Mikey heard and its special scent for Nana sparkled before her. She and Mikey managed to set it up all by themselves, thank you very much. Nana wore him out and now he was napping. Soon... soon she would wake him and find a way, a tender way, to the truth, truth she could hardly bear herself.

Her mind trip hammered back to 1963, John Kennedy and John-John, their lives now so much dust. 'How do we bear so much for so long,' she wondered. The voice of her Grandson offered the perfect and only reply. "Nana?"

"There's my big boy!" Nana smiled. Mikey was yawning and rubbing his fingers in his eyes. Nana got up and offered him a beckoning hand. "Let's go to the kitchen. I have a little project planned for the two of us. We're gonna make some Christmas candles."

She helped Mikey into one of the chairs at the dining table, then handed him a chunk of wax. "Texture," she whispered, "Feel its wonderful form."

Mikey's eyes smiled. "My hands make it warmer." He held the wax in his tiny cupped hands, infinite cradle, silly little nose tickle wiggle. "Oh, it smells sweet!"

"The scent of sugar bees,' advised Nana. "Set it on the table, sweetheart. Tap it with this pencil and..."

Who knows when a child giggles. "Nana, it has sounds!" Tap. Tap-tap. His head turned, small ears listening close as he tapped the wax. "I hear it inside o' me!"

"Yes, oh yes," a Grandmother tear.

"Does it have milk, Nana?"

"No milk, its color is its own."

She scooted a chair over next to the stove, made a slow fire under a clear glass bowl. "Michael, come bring the wax." She took it from his hand, then helped him climb onto the chair. "Stand up and watch me," she said as she dropped the wax into the dish.

"Oh Nana, it smells like it's leaving!"

"Oh dear," Nana held his head against her breast for a moment, rocked slowly back and forth. "Sugar
bees, Sweetie, it's the scent of sugar bees."

Mikey's eyes were wide, his excitement bubbling over. "Is it clouds, Nana?"

Maggie touched the fine hair on his head. "It is vapor, Michael. It is mist." She bent and kissed his face. "Yes, it is clouds, Michael."

"Oh no, Nana, now it runned away!"

"No, no," she whispered, smiled sadly as she slipped her hand into a hot mitt with "MOM" embroidered on the wrist. She jiggled the bowl a bit.

"It's indivisible just like God!" Mikey exclaimed in awe. "Look Nana, it sees me through it!"

Her fingers traced the outline of his face. She placed a pencil in his hand. "Tap it now, Michael. Be careful, it is very hot and will burn you if it touches your skin."

He pointed the pencil into a wisp of vapor, mades airplane sounds, then drew it intentionally through. His eyes crossed for a moment, then he carefully tapped the surface of the melted wax. "It ain't soundin', Nana!"

Nana bit gently on her tongue, forced herself to swallow, down, down, hard and down. "See Michael, it's still there," she said sweetly. "It has taken on a new form. We cannot see it. We cannot touch it. We cannot smell it. We cannot hear it. But Michael.. Michael, we can remember always what it was as we see it now for what it has become."

Michael clapped his hands excitedly. "I'm gonna keep its sound and smell in me, Nana!"

She turned off the slow fire, smooth wax. "So shall I, Michael, so shall I."

He sat quietly in her lap, fidgeted a bit, then, "Nana, are you gonna throw the wax away?"

"Never, sweet boy, never," she breathed into his hair. "We will make a candle of it, you and I. Then we'll light it every day, enjoy its warmth and light."

"For ever an' ever?" Each drawn out, the words lingered on Michael's lips.

"Each and every day," Nana promised.

They are dressed now and soon to begin the walk, his tiny hand tucked tightly into hers. They climb into the first of the black cars behind the long car, its gray curtains goin' down slow.

She is brave behind her veil, thankful for Michael, the child of her child, who, by his existence, demands of her grief strength and understanding beyond the transparent pale, its quick seize of sorrow. Later, much later, in the Christmas tree room, the two of them sit. She watches him as she watched her first two Michaels, the wonderful reflection of life, the tiny candle flame twinned in his eyes. "Nana," he cries, "I smell my Daddy singin'!”


Candles, Christmas, Death, Family, Funerals, Grandchildren, Grief

Meet the author

author avatar WordWulf
I write novels, poetry, songs,nonsense & lies. Sometimes truth sneaks in when I ain't lookin'.

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author avatar Strovek
17th Dec 2010 (#)

Touching story - very apt for the season.

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author avatar WordWulf
18th Dec 2010 (#)

Thank-you. I appreciate you taking the time to read & comment.

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author avatar Denise O
19th Dec 2010 (#)

Lordy wordwuff, you got me crying now. Just a heartfelt story.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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