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.