When we lose people in our lives it is interesting the things we hold on to. We may hold on to old photos, personal belongings, or mementos. Things that matter much more to us now than they ever did when the person was alive. It is because they are the things we have left – the things we hold on to because we believe they anchor our memories.
One learns though after a few years that the memories don’t fade away into the grey matter never to be retrieved again. Quite the contrary, one finds that the brain has hundreds of layers of memories woven into and throughout the senses, memories that can be brought unexpectedly to the forefront by a smell, someone’s laugh, a gesture, a meal, or a simple image. Sometimes these memories are latent, but upon being drawn to something and questioning why it is that you were drawn to it you realize it is because of one of those memories tucked far away.
I have a lot of those memories tucked here and there through the years. The majority of them relate to my mother who passed away ten years ago in April. Today would have been her 82nd birthday. Some of the memories have become part and parcel of my every day functioning, such as an affection for birds. Since her death I have been drawn to birds, both alive and artistic renderings. My mother used to have a giant bird feeder in her yard and when I last visited her at her home in California we sat outside on the patio and watched the birds. My mother’s kindness toward the birds left an imprint and ever since I have become the guardian of birds at my house.
But there are so many other things that bring to mind my mother – anything powder blue (her favorite color), my hibiscus plants (my mother always loved the hubiscus in the yard of my childhood home), the importance of being kind to people, the smell of toll house chocolate chip cookies, coupons (my mom was one of the original extreme couponers), daffodils (my favorite flower that only my mom seemed to ever remember), Neil Diamond (oh, how she loved Neil), potato pancakes, and so many other things that are peppered throughout my day-to-day existence. All days, in a dozen different ways, I remember my mom.
People leave us – often without warning and almost always sooner than we’d like them to. We have to find ways to go on without them being physically with us. It isn’t easy, but it is the way of life – it must go on. We must go on.
In me lives pieces of my mother, be they by virtue of my upbringing, genes, or a purposeful homage to the way she lived her life. They are evident across so many dimensions and in so many things I see, taste, smell, touch, hear and experience. I am my mother’s daughter and her imprint stays with me. That is the beauty of lives lived – they leave a mark on the minds, hearts, and souls of those they touch. And that is what we hold on to my friends…that is
One thousand two hundred and six of the new forty – obla di obla da