By Stan Bargmeyer
This Christmas marks 12 years since my wife Lucille passed away. Lucille was my wife of 35 years and then she just died.
I still remember our last night together. I was wrapping a bar of Dove soap for one of my friends and I asked Lucille if Dove soap was made with real pieces of Dove meat? I mean, why else would they call it Dove Soap? I assumed that doves were used somewhere in the process of making their soap.
Lucille told me that there was no dove meat in Dove soap. I remember feeling both relief and disappointment. Lucille just laughed.
She always knew stuff that I didn’t know.
Like she knew that you should not hang candles on a Christmas tree. And she knew that my recipe for meat juice could use more water and a lot less actual meat juice. She knew that our mailman was NOT Walter Cronkite. And she knew that what I thought were wild apes and monkeys living in the woods behind our house were only raccoons and a couple possums.
That was Lucille. She was so much smarter than me.
Lucille baked cookies at Christmas. And she sang Christmas songs. All day and into the night. Songs about silence during the nighttime and songs about a child drumming prodigy. I don’t know many words to Christmas songs so I don’t sing them. I do know the words to “Born on the Bayou” by Credence Clearwater Revival. So, sometimes I sing that song at Christmastime.
Sometimes it feels like when Lucille died, our house kind of died too. Nowadays, I hear a lot of silence. Stillness. Like everything just stopped trying. I didn’t think you could hear silence and stillness. But you can.
Before she died, Lucille told me that I would never be alone. That she would still be here with me. It doesn’t feel that way. I struggle to do most everything nowadays. Things she would have been so much better at doing.
But at Christmas, I can feel her. Like she’s just in the next room and if I just walked in there I will see her sitting on the couch, writing notes on Christmas cards. Or humming a song. So most days I stay in the kitchen. I don’t want to wander in to the next room just to see she’s not there. Plus, I sometimes get lost if I wander too far from the kitchen.
This Christmas, I’m making homemade soap. And I’m using real dove meat. Actually, I couldn’t find any doves. So, I’m using some frozen chicken nuggets. I’m going to wrap the bars of homemade dove soap and give them as gifts. Lucille would like that I’m making an effort to be friendly. She would like that I’m trying to do nice things for other people.
All I ever wanted to do is nice things for her.
So, Merry Christmas. And I apologize for the texture of the homemade gift soap. It is a bit gamey.