Christmas is often spent by letting your loved ones know how much you mean to them. It’s the time of year when families come together and celebrate.
This Christmas, however, was different for us.
My father is 89 years old and has declined medically over the past year and has also developed dementia. This was hard to hear.
Would my father still be able to recognize me in the coming years? What about the fond memories we built together?
Leaving a legacy has always been something very important to my father. He was, and still is, all about creating moments and memories. Not just with his 3 children and 6 grandchildren, but with those who needed his guidance too.
Up until last year, both friends and family always took to my father’s house for gatherings.
We were absolutely heartbroken to find out that he had developed dementia up to the point of having to be admitted into hospice last August.
This came as a devastating surprise to us as our father had always been an incredibly strong man, both mentally and physically. He was our rock. Whenever we had a problem, or were just in need of a pick-me-up, we could always turn to our father to brighten our days.
Despite having to fight dementia every day, my father still works hard to make sure he can continue making memories with us, and especially his grandchildren.
Those grandchildren are part of his legacy, and there’s no better feeling in the world than seeing them smile and have fun together. It warms my heart to know that my father is still around to give my own children the same love I received from him. To know that their grandfather has been part of their life is a blessing which many children don’t get to experience nowadays.
As my father was admitted in August, the Christmas holidays were rapidly approaching.
Knowing that his health was declining, he wanted to do something special this year. Something, despite all the memories, we would remember him by. He really wanted this to be a sentimental piece, and he wanted to make it perfect.
Unfortunately, my father doesn’t have much longer so this was probably one of the last and most precious gifts he could give us.
It goes without saying that finding the perfect gift wasn’t easy. By chance, I saw Kelly Stafford post some beautiful boxes on Instagram. The boxes were handmade high quality wood with customized engraving. She was very pleased with the boxes which also had each of her daughters' names engraved on the top of the lid. The way she expressed her joy over the boxes and showed how special it was to her actually convinced me to have a look myself.
Honestly, these boxes were beautiful.
This was it. This would be the perfect gift.
As soon as I showed my father the boxes he fell in love with the idea. If there was ever anything he could give his family for Christmas, it would be these beautiful boxes which he could customize entirely.
Together we searched for the perfect quote. We saw lots of emotional quotes, but none of them quite captured what my father wanted to say to us.
Then we finally came across the quote which summed up our entire lives with our father. The quote said “Loved you then, love you still, always have, always will”. My father immediately loved this quote and said: “THAT’S IT! ORDER THEM!”.
And he was right. This quote was precisely what my father stood for. He always made us feel welcome, appreciated and loved. There was never a second in our lives where we had to doubt whether we could go to our father with something, because we knew he’d welcome us with open arms regardless of the problem. Even now, with his dementia, he’s still finding ways to make us feel special.
I contacted Mikutowski Woodworking to have 9 boxes made, one for each of his children and grandchildren. Now this is where customer service honestly goes above and beyond. I explained the story to Jessie and told her which engraving he wanted on the boxes.
They then suggested something which made this special gift an unforgettable heirloom. The boxes with the quote were obviously already a precious gift, but Jessie suggested adding an engraving on the inside of the box in my father’s handwriting.
The idea itself was great, but my father is too shaky and can’t write anymore. Fortunately, I was able to find some birthday cards which my father signed with “Love, Papa” and “Love, Dad” when he was in better health. Jessie and the team used these cards to add this engraving on the inside of the box making sure the handwriting was true to the original.
The delivery of the boxes went flawlessly, and we couldn’t have asked for a better service. People at Mikutowski Woodworking made sure all 9 Cache boxes were created, engraved and delivered by Christmas.
Come Christmas, it was time to open up the present.
The whole family came together to celebrate what may just be my father’s last Christmas. With this in our minds, we obviously appreciated being able to see each other, especially with the coronavirus keeping families apart.
But what made this Christmas truly magical was the fact that we were all able to be together and enjoy each other’s company considering the circumstances.
When we each opened up our gifts from our (grand)father, it’s safe to say that the emotion in the room piqued.
The Cache boxes alone were beautiful, but seeing that quote on top of the box, knowing our father gave it to us.. No other quote would have captured the spirit of our father like this one did. It was perfect.
But what the rest of the family didn’t know yet, was that the inside of the box would reveal something unique and timeless. As we each opened our boxes, we all saw the engraving saying “Love, Papa” or “Love, Dad”.
It was at that moment that our father knew he had given us all something very special to remember him by. Those words, love Papa and love Dad, could never be erased, lost or crumpled. It was such an amazing experience to celebrate Christmas with our medically declining father and those beautiful gifts.
This certainly was a Christmas we’ll never forget, one of the most special celebrations of all, and it was made possible thanks to Jessie and the team at Mikutowski Woodworking.