My mother was a phenomenal woman with a larger than life personality and a generous spirit. She was a successful comedienne in the early days of Las Vegas, an accomplished entrepreneur, and a patron of the community. She was also my greatest supporter, my best friend, and my closest confidante. Unfortunately, she died when I was only 24 years old after a long series of illnesses. This was three years before my first child was born and now more than 25 years ago.
I remember being surprised at how differently each member of the family processed our loss. But, without exception, memories of mom were healing for all of us. A single shared memory could bring us all to fits of laughter and expressions of joy – even in the face of great sadness. And, I will admit that 25 years later, memories of Mom still help sustain all of us today.
I am grateful that Mom knew and loved my husband and was alive to celebrate our marriage with us. But, I will admit to being heartbroken when I realized she would never know my children and that my children would never have the privilege of knowing her.
One of the greatest gifts my husband Jonathan has ever given me is to help me keep the memory of my mother alive. My children are now 15 and 21 years old, and they talk about their Grandma Nancy like they knew her. Throughout their lives, we have talked of Grandma Nancy and we have shared pictures, stories and anecdotes about her. We have told the kids when one of their mannerisms remind us of her. And, this Mother’s Day we introduced them to another side of Grandma Nancy with videos of some of her performances.
I have always been grateful that my husband embraced the memory of my mom with me and helped me keep that memory alive. But, just this week, more than 25 years after Mom’s passing, I received three new precious gifts of memories from other people who knew her:
- A family friend posted a photo of her on Facebook with a memory and tagged me in the photo
- A friend she worked on many community projects with sent me an email indicating she had come across some pictures of my mom that she thought I might like to have, and
- I received a beautiful voice mail from a family friend wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day and telling me how proud my mother would be of me as a mother.
These gifts were a reminder of just how meaningful it is to me when someone who knew and loved my mother remembers her to me.
Many people shy away from talking about someone who has died because they worry that the memories will make someone sad. When the time is right, I hope you will consider sharing cherished memories, photos and anecdotes about someone who has died with someone else who has loved them. While occasionally a bit bittersweet, the warm embrace of those memories and the re-kindled fits of laughter are truly priceless.
Written by: Darra Wray
Darra Wray is a Care Consultant and Certified Senior Advisor with My Care Companions in Boise, Idaho, a company she founded to streamline and simplify the administrative side of care. You can learn more about My Care Companions and the My Data Diary+ family information management software tool at www.mycarecompanions.com.