My mom, an amazing woman who created a magical childhood for my brothers and me and serves as an extraordinary example of a wonderful mother, wife, and friend, passed away when I was 19, a full decade before I became a mom. I deeply regret that my kids will never meet her in this lifetime, and I would love nothing more than for her to play an active role in their lives.
As my kids grow up and build strong relationships with their living grandparents, I realize that while nothing I do can bring my mom physically into their lives, I do have the responsibility and capability to bring my mom’s memory to life and ensure that she remains a vibrant part of our family’s story.
I don’t think you need to meet someone physically to feel like you know them. Full disclosure, some of my favorite people aren’t really people at all, but characters in beloved books and even movies and TV shows. That’s sort of embarrassing to type out, but if you’ve never imagined yourself hanging at Hogwarts with Hermione, well then, sorry for your lack of imagination.
When considering how to bring my mom to life for my children, I’m reflecting on how a gifted storyteller brings a fictional character for life. There is their origin story, their values and motivations, and then perhaps my favorite part – the little things. Their catch phrases, personality quirks, and daily habits. These little things show the reader or viewer what it might be like to spend consistent quality time with this character in real life.
For example, my mom always had a mug of tea floating around the house. She would pour herself a cup, forget about it, let it grow cold, warm it up in the microwave, forget about it, let it grow cold in the microwave, and repeat the cycle. That little anecdote is just so very her – wholesome, well-intentioned, and more than a little absent-minded.
My late grandma would clasp her hands together and exclaim, “Very good!” to almost every thing one of her children or grandchildren announced. That little phrase is just so very her – wholly supportive, deeply interested in others, and easily delighted.
Neither of those stories are hilarious, unbelievable, or transformative, but they paint a picture of what it is like to spend time with them in everyday settings as I was so fortunate to be able to do for 19 years. I wish that my kids were also able to experience the little moments that made me laugh or roll my eyes. Since they can’t, my hope is that through sharing both inconsequential tidbits as well as origin stories and values, my mom and grandparents, though gone, will still feel present for my kids.
As I go through my family’s daily routine, I aim to seek out opportunities to share how my mom would react in the same scenario. If I forget about my coffee and let it go cold (daily), there’s an opportunity to bring in my mom. If I borrow one of my mom’s cheesy exit lines (“see you round like a donut”), or totally nail a funny voice for a stuffed animal like she would, there’s an opportunity to bring in my mom. You likely have similar opportunities throughout your day to reference something small and silly about your loved ones and provide your kids with a delightful glimpse of their personalities.
I would love to hear how other moms are keeping their loved ones’ memories alive for their kids as I am in early days with this process. I know so many of us are in this same boat, so please share your stories and ideas!