Keeping My Mom’s Memory Alive for My Kids


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!

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A native St. Louisan, Diana lives in Creve Coeur with her husband, young son, two daughters, and two dogs. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, which she uses as an excuse to be nosy regarding other people’s lives. She recently left a career in legal marketing to work part-time from home and focus on her babies (furry and otherwise). Her current parenting mantras are: “I can do it all, just not all at once,” and “It will probably be fine?” Diana gets her kicks by going for long runs, reading a mix of high-brow and low-brow literature, and seeking out activities her whole family (including the puppies!) can enjoy around town.


  1. I cried when I read this… I lost my mom when I was 29. A few months after my second was born. I try everyday to bring her up whether it’s about her favorite mug, or that she loved the Beatles and VW Bugs. My kids think she’s so cool even though they don’t remember her which breaks and warms my heart at the same time.

  2. I was 28 when my mom passed away. I had my daughter at 35. Like you, it breaks my heart that she was never able to meet my daughter in this lifetime. You’re doing great at keeping her memory alive! I’m kind of like you…we’ll be doing something and I’ll make a comment about how “my mom, your angel grandma” would…andwhatever it is, we talk about it. My mom was a prankster. My daughter has picked that up. She loves saying, “I tricked you!” We also have a picture of all the grandparents in a frame with new baby. While my mom isn’t holding her, my moms picture is also included. Just keep doing what you’re doing, mama! Hugs!

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