Thursday, September 19, 2013

Celebrating the Lives of our Ancestors

Today would have been my mother's 79th birthday and a few of us gathered to celebrate her life. My niece Stephanie whose birthday is this week as well and my sister in law Teri joined me for lunch, along with my youngest granddaughter who was primarily there for entertainment. So far this week I have been out to eat four times doing the same thing. On Monday for lunch I was with two of my favorite friends both named Cindy, and on Tuesday for lunch I was with Mariruth a cousin of my father and Karen another relative from that side of the family. Tuesday evening I took my husband out to eat. As you can probably guess I like to eat out and I don't cook much anymore. The same was true of my mother.

Then I had a phone call from my aunt Lois this morning and we shared memories of my mother. Steve my youngest brother sent me a wonderful text message with a picture of our mother's marker. Our step-father purchased a plan where the flowers will be changed every three months with seasonal synthetic flowers. We all remember her with great love and gratefulness for her place in our lives.

Over the past few days I read through many emails that my mother and I shared over the years. There were four responses to lists where one would fill in simple details of their lives. Previously I found one that I sent out about my life, but the ones she sent were not in the file I thought they would be in. It seems that following my surgeries I must have done some creative movement of the files. Then last night I found three emails containing paragraphs that she wrote in response to questions I had about her childhood and our family. There is probably more hidden in my computer files and I will keep exploring for more.

Our everyday communications may seem unimportant in the hustle of our daily lives, but please consider the amount of family history that they contain. In my collections of family keepsakes there are handwritten cards and letters that she sent to me as well. With her sudden passing now those things seem of tremendous importance. As future generations and even those living today come to want to know more about our loved ones they hardly know, these items will grow in value. How do we protect and preserve the tidbits of their lives and share them with others? Some seem too personal to share online with the general public, but are reserved for our immediate family.

So, as today draws to a close it is time to appreciate the family and friends who have been my support over the last three months. While we pass through the major challenge of understanding the last chapter in a loved one's life, sharing with each other makes for bittersweet memories. This surely has been a time of great learning for all of us as we process moving forward together. Celebrating the lives of our ancestors is important and learning about them as a person expands our appreciation of our own lives.

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