Keeping Mom and Grandma’s memories alive
Updated: Feb 13
I talk to my Mom almost every day. We chat about everything from household chores to what’s for dinner to the latest crisis of trying to find a pastor for their church. Quite honestly, I have no idea what I am going to do when my Mom passes. She helps ground me. She makes me laugh. She laughs at my jokes. For those who have lost parents and loved ones, my heart goes out to you.
I can totally understand the desire to keep “everything” that your mother had ever owned to somehow have that be a source of comfort in the days that follow her passing. If that is where you are, then please don’t feel intimidated (by me) to pare down the pile of love that you have inherited.
But if you are feeling overwhelmed by grief and having all of this extra stuff around isn’t helping you function, I have a few ideas that I am planning, as I watch my parents get a little older each year. This is my strategy for now. I’m sure it will evolve as the time gets closer.
1. Requesting the items I want while everyone is alive and healthy.. I remember when I was a little girl, going to my grandma’s house and wearing her “slippery slippers”, as I called them. I would put my cute little feet into these things and zip around on the shag carpeting from room to room, throughly enjoying every moment. One day when I was in my 20’s, I just asked my grandma if I could inherit these. She just handed them over right then and there. It made me realize that there is very few things that your grandparents own that they are so attached to that they wouldn’t share with you immediately. It never hurts to ask. If they are still using the item that you think is so cool, they will most likely write it down so that you end up with it some day.
I suggest doing this so that you have “something” from the ones you love so you don’t feel obligated to keep “everything”. With my other grandma, I asked if I could have the cookie jar that sat on her counter all of the years we were growing up. She gladly gave me the cookie jar. I enjoyed it for a while, and then I gave it to my brother for his 40th. Perhaps he’ll give it back to me when I turn 50?
Some cool items that are small and have a bit of sentimental value that remind you of what they stood for in this life are the perfect “treasures” to keep. They probably aren’t worth a lot of money, but unless you actually have come from money, I wouldn’t worry about it. Very few of us have items of actual value, and that is good. Life gets complicated that way.
2. Processing journals, photographs, memoirs and stuff... We live in the day of scanners and digital media. It is entirely possible to preserve a lot of memories by sending it off somewhere to have everything scanned in. Possibly making a collection of these things and having them bound into one book would serve more usefulness than keeping an entire box of aging photographs. There’s usually one industrious family member of each family who likes to archive and preserve old memorabilia. It would be great to preserve old family memories, stories, photographs, recipes and such in one big book.
3. Spend time with your parents as they are getting older. I am purposely making it my priority to be “with” my mom and dad these days, even if it is just some boring activities like watching their favorite T.V. shows. Last summer, I was able to spend almost a week with my folks while Emily was at summer camp. It was delightful. Their slow-paced lives was completely relaxing for my overworked, overstressed out self. I think people who spend time with their parents have less guilt to deal with after their passing. There may be less temptation to keep “everything” when you have made so many memories!!
4.Remember what is funny. One of things my mother (and dad) and I do is laugh. a lot. I plan to have a few bizarre items in my home that will distinctly remind me of what made me (or them) laugh. For me, I plan to have a clear glass jar with just a simple label on it “Grandma’s Farts” and threaten my Grandchildren with it if they ever misbehave in my presence. I’m also going to have a can of diet coke with the label “Grandma’s Burps”. I also plan to have an empty Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket with “Grandpa’s Hunting Secrets” written on it, since he’s always wanted his ashes to be transported in a KFC bucket. Some day a thief will break into my home, looking for treasures. He’ll be instantly caught when he picks up “grandma’s farts” and starts laughing uproariously.
All this to say– our treasure is not in items of great earthly value. Our treasure is in precious memories and traditions and nuances and all the good things that make us family. Don’t make it about stuff.