My mom recently passed away. Her health had been declining over the years and things took a bad turn this year. I have spent the last week handling her affairs, writing her obituary, sorting mail, gaining access to accounts, packing up personal effects, and looking through boxes and boxes of photos, mementos, and newspaper clippings. The obit was really difficult as I spent a few hours writing, crying, and reflecting on her life. She is a big part of my life and who I am. I gained a deeper sense of appreciation of her as I went through this experience. Now would have been a great time to have that last talk.
My mom explored many hobbies. She loved to cook, crochet, and scrapbook. She was also a photographer. And, this was something that I didn’t truly understand until recently. She always had a camera near her, on the ready, to capture a moment. I didn’t realize how important this was to her. In her retirement, she sorted the photos by family, special events, historical significance, activities, vacations, births, deaths, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Her favorite subject was her family. She rarely took a photo of herself… this was before the era of selfies. She was making scrapbooks, photo albums, and shadowboxes of some of the big moments. Although she had been working on them so hard for a number of years, she wasn’t able to complete all of them that she started . She was actively curating memories, clipping out comics, writing captions, and indexing. She was proud of what she got to experience in life and what she enabled her family to experience. She had made a charm bracelet using some of the photos: her parents, her three boys, and her first grandchild.
As tough as 2020 was, 2021 has been harder so far. Transformative for many, destructive for others. As I sift through everything that she collected, I also got to experience what she cherished and revive some very old memories. I keep thinking about what I will leave behind and what story it will tell. I would like to say it was a jolt of awakening, but it has been a slow transformation since her passing. We are all curating — choosing what’s important to us, bringing more of that in. We take photos and store them on our phones. Make sure to tag them, edit them, and share them. Turn them into something that you can pass on. I am always changing — sometimes deliberately and other time, like this one, happening to me. I am thankful my mom captured memories, saved some scraps of paper, and curated some of her cherished moments.