Thursday, June 6, 2013

Home Is Where the Heart Is

This past week I spent with my Sistah’s family and the newlyweds. As always when I go to San Luis Obispo, I have pangs of nostalgia. It was my mom’s favorite place, where we scattered her ashes overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

When you are young, your parents document your life’s achievements and moments to create your personal history. Given all of the technology available, they snap digital cameras and movie clips which they assemble in impressive scrapbooks and Facebook posts. It reminds them of your accomplishments and how proud they are of you.  Their children are, in fact, their shining star, illuminated, and center stage in their lives.  I confess that I am somewhat guilty of recording much of my daughter’s life in a similar manner.  My own mother, with whom my daughter and were very close, passed away after a long battle with cancer three years ago.   I know we were the shining light of her life as she was of ours.



In going through her things, we were surprised at what she kept as mementos. It was difficult to decide what to save and what to donate as my daughter didn’t want to depart with a single thing. Many of the items had no real dollar value and were only for my mom’s sense of wanting to mark a distinctive moment in time.   There was a beautiful aquamarine ring that her father had brought back from India. He told her the blue green color reminded him of her eyes. My grandfather was a single parent for most of her life who passed away when I was in kindergarten. She wore it only on special occasions and always told us funny stories about him when she did. 

There was also a colored pencil sketch that someone did of her in her early thirties on lined notebook paper. It was stuck in a folder to keep the edges from curling yet never framed. It was lovely, but we don’t know why she didn’t display it. Buried amongst the scraps of paper were letters that my sister and I had written to the Tooth Fairy. They carefully outlined that our mother could vouch for a lost tooth and could we please have an increase in pay as well. I’m not sure why she picked these communications over notes or love letters from her youth. There are still notes stuffed in a drawer I can't bring myself to read.  I think it was another demonstration of how she chose us over herself.  

Every Christmas Eve, my mother organized a Jack Corner prize where each child pulled an early gift with a string to occupy them for the evening. It was highly anticipated that we would receive a much coveted book or game to keep us upstairs while my parents helped Santa wrap and assemble. It is a lasting memory and tradition we continue even today as adults.  Christmas remains our closest family tie to her and each other.

My mom was, and still remains, the guiding light on what it means to be a family.  Her life is our framework on remembering what is important to reminisce over. But our lives remain an open book, which we continue to add to the back pages as an ever expanding story.  A photo can capture the inner soul of a person and above is a picture of her on my christening day. I didn’t notice until months after her death, the necklace she wearing is one of my favorite things I kept rather than give away. While we miss her every day, we can find the love and humor in our lives because she made us who we are now.


16 comments:

MOV said...

This is so lovely. What a beautiful and thoughtful tribute. It is times likes these, when you have such a dear memory to share, that it is so great that you are a fabulous writer because you capture it so perfectly.

Your mom would be really proud of you and all your accomplishments.

You know, my own mom just died in October after a long battle with lung cancer and breast cancer. This makes your essay even more meaningful for me, as we had to go through all her things too. Pain stabs at me still at the loss of my mother, the loss of a relationship. She does communicate with me from the Great Beyond, but that is a story for another day.

Thank you for writing this.

Julie (MOV)

Mamma has spoken said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your mother!
I so know what you are going through in that I lost my mother too. It's been over 15 years but there are still things that I see that will bring back a flood of memories of her. For years, I had boxes of her treasures in my garage, taking up space but I couldn't go through or get rid of because it was her stuff, her treasures. However with time, and the making of new memories I was finally able to go through and take what I wanted to display in a loving manner and donate the rest. You see I came to the realization that her treasures weren't doing either of us any good in that I wasn't honoring them, and I wasn't moving on by letting them take up valuable real estate in my home that could be used to make new memories.
Would say this was my bit of wisdom but it's not. Thanks Clean House or some program like it ;o)

Mommy Bags said...

What a beautiful post....I cried becasue it hit so close to home I lost my mom about the same time and to this day I till see things that remind me of her everyday. I miss her everyday......really great post.....

Caren Gittleman said...

I do not have a good relationship with my mother and always longed to have had a mother where I had memories such as yours.
This was one of the most beautiful tributes I have ever read.
Your mom is looking down on you from Heaven, beaming with pride!
xoxoxo

dbs said...

Loved this.

Betty Luckhurst said...

Sometimes, sentimental value is so much more priceless than monetary value. Lovely words about lovely ladies.

Red Nomad OZ said...

It's so great that the wonderful memories you have shared of your mum are touching people all around the world. She'd be so proud of you!! Have a great weekend!

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

You must know I am shedding tears of both sadness and joy as I read this. It's amazing how the scraps of paper, notes and sparkly baubles that our loved ones leave behind create the greatest legacy of all. Hugs and XO for a lovely post.

Ami said...

A very sweet tribute to your mom and what family really means. :)

Chris Dean said...

Beautiful words and a beautiful tribute! Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

So Lovely. These little things are precious to me as well. They are the type of things I kept from my mother. And now, I have a High School scrapbook to finish this weekend : )

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Beautifully said, Mrs T. I think so often of my mother, grandmothers, aunts and other dear women in my life who have died. I'm finding that the memories stay strong over decades and the items of sentimental value, though I'm glad to have them, decrease in importance. I suppose that's because time has proven the strength of the memories.

Marianne said...

Oh my gosh. This is so beautiful and your mother sounds like a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing a bit of her with us.

Doreen McGettigan said...

That photo is just beautiful and so is your tribute to your Mother.
You are going to be a fabulous grandmother...someday:)

Kelly Louise said...

I always enjoy the connections we make with our mothers and uncovering mementos is like discovering buried treasure.

Vapid Vixen said...

I love this post. The end.