I don’t need advertisers to remind me of Mother’s Day. It’s a holiday I could never forget. It was the last day I would get to spend with my mother.
It was Mother’s Day, 1994. Following our tradition, I spent that morning planting brightly colored Impatiens in Mother’s front flowerbed before we gathered for lunch at my sister’s house. It was one of those idyllic spring days. The weather was clear, the temperature was delightful and everyone was in a good mood. After lunch we spent the afternoon on the patio basking in the sunshine and enjoying each other’s company. As we were driving home that evening she turned to us and said, “I had a lovely day today. It was perfect. If I should die tonight it will be as a happy woman.” We had no idea her words would prove to be prophetic. The next morning we found her in her bed where she had died in her sleep.
I’ve wondered if she had a premonition of what was coming and if her words were her final gift to us. Her way of letting us know that all was well with her and she had no loose ends to wrap up in her relationships with us. Or perhaps it was just a fluke. Although her death was a terrible shock, we all knew her departure was exactly the way she would have wanted it and that gave us some small comfort. My mother was quiet, reserved and very dignified. She did not fear death but she did fear the loss of her personal privacy to disability or disease. I’m so glad she was spared that.
A few years before she died I told my mother I wanted to capture some of her life stories and experiences. My father had died 11 years earlier and I regretted that I missed my opportunity to do the same with him. She insisted her life was “ordinary” and unexciting but I persisted and she consented to do a video interview. I am so grateful I won that argument because this was one of the rare instances where my mother was wrong. There is no such thing as an ordinary life. It doesn’t matter if you’ve performed some legendary feat or soared to the heights of your profession—you mean a great deal to the people who love you. Every time I watch that video it gives me so much pleasure to see her telling her stories in her own voice and I love knowing that future generations will get to hear them as well. A piece of living history.
May is also Personal History Awareness month. Is there someone you love whose stories you want to capture? Is there someone who would treasure hearing your stories? If you’re waiting for the opportune moment, it’s now. Before it’s too late.
Even though my mother has been gone for more than two decades she is never very far away. I see her face every time I look at my own reflection in a mirror and hear her words often when they roll from my mouth. But I am oh so glad I have that video!