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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

December , 2020
Dancing Santa

My mother, wearing a white beard and a costume of Santa Claus bought at the variety store, danced, danced, and danced along to my performance, wildly shaking her plump body.

That is a memory of December.
During the Christmas season, I used to go around with my mother for volunteering.
We visited the elderly people’s homes, children’s homes, disabled people’s homes and hospices. We performed at various facilities for people who couldn’t come to concerts even though they wanted to. My mother dressed up as Santa Claus and gave out sweets from a large white bag.
It was my mother who suggested that we should do such activities.
She was an active person, who used to be a leader at the YMCA when she was young.
She worked at the Elizabeth Saunders Home for Children with much enthusiasm and a sense of purpose in caring for the children there.
Towards the end of her life, she wished to do some volunteering work with me. She did volunteering work for over 30 years with me, from spring, summer, autumn and winter, but gradually, due to her physical limitations, sometimes I went on my own , but she always wanted to come with me.
Her enthusiasm gave me lots of pleasure and I enjoyed doing volunteering activities with her.

It was during one of those activities when I noticed something was different about my mother.
Sitting on a pipe chair placed in the corner of the temporary stage at the end of each piece of music, she was breathing hardly with her shoulders and looked so painful. I could see her skin turning red under the white fake beard, panting and wheezing making strange noises.
When we returned backstage after the performance, my mother’s face contorted with agony as she took off her Santa Claus hat and beard in red and white.
“Are you okay?” I asked, and my mother smiled awkwardly and nodded several times, drinking up the water I offered her.
Even after that, she insisted that she would come with me to those activities.
“You don’t have to move so much” I told her, but she said, “I know, I know” and kept on moving around on the temporary stage, making people happy.
However, my mother’s condition worsened each time and when I finally took her to the hospital, I found that her heart valve was damaged. She was admitted to the hospital right away and had to have emergency surgery.
Thanks to the great doctor, the surgery was a great success and she started to join me in my volunteering work again. She was shining, happy and joyful, moving around for the sake of others.

This year is almost over.
Christmas music can be heard in the streets.
As I squeeze my body in the cold air, and with a decorated Christmas tree in my view, I can still see my mother dressed up as Santa Claus.
Poor thing, she must have been in so much pain at the time, but she must have wanted to keep doing it.
She made her life worth living, just to make others happy. I wonder what she would do if she were alive today.

In the coronavirus disaster, you must avoid contacts with other people.
We need to put on masks and maintain appropriate distances between each other.
It is important to keep conversation to a minimum, try not to face each other and stop touching too.
What is there for me to do, under such situation?
I wonder what my mother might have suggested to me.
I think about this every day, trying to do my best to please people who gather at the Christmas concerts, avoiding the so called 3 mitsu, a measure to fight the virus.

This year’s Christmas is different from the usual.