My name is Helen and my mum died five years ago. So why haven’t I changed my phone to read “dad” instead of “mum” against their number?
I cannot bring myself to erase her.
I am not a young woman. I am a forty-four-year-old mother and step-mother to four kids in total, aged between twenty-three and four years old. I have been married, divorced and married again. I have been around the old block. So is this normal?
My mother’s death unwittingly changed my life . . . let me explain.
A few weeks after she passed away, I discovered that I was pregnant with my youngest child. Of course, these two vitally important people in my life would never meet. Wow, that’s really a bummer. I was faced with the realization that she would be little more than an old-fashioned hairstyle in a faded photo to my two kids unless I preserved her story somehow. In the self-centered years of my youth, my life had revolved around my interests and me and I had overlooked the fact that my precious mother would one day die, leaving me bereft of knowledge about her life and the experiences which shaped her as a woman.
When I remember my mum, I immediately go back to the 1970s, family holidays and endless summers, picnics and Christmas times. The precious memories we made together as a family when we were young children. The sweetness of these recollections that have remained with me all these years is the foundation of my mother’s legacy to me. It is not the necklace I inherited, nor the clothes she left in her wardrobe which will endure in my heart, but the memory of her proud tears when I was finally a bridesmaid, and the way she baked scones with me, covered in flour dust. It is the school artwork which I made that she kept thoughtfully packed away for over thirty years and the way we used to laugh until pee came out when I learned to play the trumpet.
Have you ever stopped to contemplate the moment when your kids are left in the same situation? I have. And this is how she inspired me. I founded a free website where families can capture and share the memories and events of their lives, in chronological order on a timeline. A place where photographs and narrative can sit side by side, telling the story of a life journey in the order it happened.
As a family we journal all of our activities in this way. Everything from baby growth charts and “firsts,” to school trips, family holidays, days out and school reports, even the kid’s haircuts—they all get logged and date stamped in chronological order, so that they will have a permanent record of who they are and where they came from when they grow up, or when their parents are gone. It’s unlikely that my children will ask me about my own life or experiences until they are adults, or until, like my mother, I am gone. When they take an interest, it will all be laid out for them in glorious Technicolor. A gift to a future generation!
My Blog is not a memorial. It is a colorful celebration of life’s events. A trip down the sweetest of memory lanes to a place where warm feelings live and old memories evoke a real burst of nostalgia and emotions. Our social landscape can change so significantly within a single generation, it is vital that we capture and preserve the details of the decades through which we have lived and the events which have shaped us.
If I can urge you to do one thing it would be to create your own personal time capsule for your family. Cram it full of precious memories to be opened at a later date when they are all but forgotten.My mother’s story will always have gaps in it that only she could have filled. Make sure your story is as full as the life you have led.