Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Tribute to the Light Bulb

A Tribute to the Light Bulb 
December 2017, Carl Garrard
A week ago today, the light bulb pictured here burned out. It was part of a gift I received in the Christmas of 2005 from my mother. A gift that ended up illuminating my daughters room nearly every waking day of her 6 years of being alive so far. The soft red glow of the lava lamp, has put her to ease and given her countless nights of perfect sleep. It's funny how a light bulb means so much to me now that it is extinguished. Yet the more I thought about how important it really is, the more I realized I had to pay tribute to it. This is the story of the light bulb, one that lasted almost exactly eleven years before it finally gave up.

When I opened the Christmas gift, it took nearly everything I had not to laugh. Here I was, a thirty four year old young man with a red lava lamp sitting in my lap, in a box. "What am I supposed to do with a lava lamp", I pondered in my head. Yet, a split second later, I forced the best holiday smile I could, and thanked my Mom with a kiss and a hug for her gift to me. She was on to me though and asked "do you really like it, I can take it  back... I know its an odd gift, but I thought ... ah what the hell" and laughed, in that guttural belly laugh only my Mom could do. But I declined to give it back, I was in the mood for something different and like she said, what the hell, I'd find a place for it, somewhere.

In July of 2006, my Mother passed away from cancer. It was a short period of time after we found out she had cancer till she passed, and she did so with minimal suffering. She went quickly, and did so quietly with very close friends, her husband, and her closest family by her side as she left our world. That night, as my wife at the time drove me back from Arizona to my home in California, fires ravaged southern California so badly the smoke in the sky covered the Arizona horizon at dusk, creating red skies everywhere I could see. We were bathed in red light. The red sun was darkened out so much you could look at it with the naked eye for as long as you pleased. It was eerie and odd considering what had just happened, but oddly it was a welcome distraction from being in shock earlier that afternoon.

Later the next day, I woke up, walked into the spare room and looked at the lava lamp that I had begrudgingly placed on a nightstand there. I wept. In that moment I realized that this crazy lamp was now was the most important gift my Mom would ever give me, because it was the very last one. She was too sick on my birthday in April to send me a gift, and I realized right away that I would look upon it differently for years to come.

Fast forward five years, and my beautiful daughter was born. And at night I used my "mothers light" to keep her feeling safe in her room from the boogie man. The soft red warm light was on every night, so when she woke she wouldn't be in complete darkness. My mom never had the chance to meet my daughter, but her light kept her warm for years. I marveled that I had never changed the bulb in it, the very original bulb stayed bright every single day.

Until a week ago. And call me sentimental, but I just couldn't throw it away. I've never heard of a standard light bulb lasting 11 years being turned on and off almost every single day. I can't help but wonder if mysterious powers in the universe were at play, keeping it going way longer than it should have. My mom's light ended prematurely, but she kept light on her closest loved ones well after she passed. As my mom was always full of surprises, so were the gifts that she gave me. All of them.

I will love you forever Mom.


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