This post was first published as a newspaper column in 2014
This Mother’s Day will be different for me as it marks the first one without my mother, who passed away in early April. I won’t be searching for the perfect card, preparing a Mother’s Day dinner or making plans with my sisters to take Mom out. I’ll shop the Dunwoody Arts Festival as usual, and I’m sure I’ll notice all the items I might once have gotten for Mom. I’ve smiled as I’ve discovered items from previous festivals among her belongings. In the past weeks, I’ve had thoughts like “Mother would get a kick out of the four tiny eggs in the Carolina Wren’s nest on the porch” or “Mom would laugh at the cat talking to the birds.” I know these moments will eventually become less frequent, but for now, they bring a bittersweet smile to my face.
As the oldest of three girls, I’ve inherited the 22 photo albums and numerous other keepsakes, many of which I don’t recall ever seeing before. As I’ve flipped through albums or dug through the box marked “Keepsakes/Kathy Jean,” I’ve found fascinating memorabilia. I already had Mom’s MacArthur doll from WWII but also found a pair of wooden shoes her uncle had brought back from the Pacific and a military banner her father had sent her when he was in the Army.
I have a few of my parents’ wedding photos framed at my house, but I got a kick out of the book that contained telegrams my mom and dad had received on their wedding day in 1952. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actual telegram before. Mother also kept a journal about the honeymoon trip to NYC to meet Daddy’s family after the wedding in Macon. I can just imagine my mom in a bit of shock as she met her new Greek/Italian family and toured NYC. She grew to love the city when they moved there from Jacksonville after my dad left the Navy, but that first visit had to be something for a Southern girl from Macon.
I have a handmade quilt and bag of crocheted doilies, but don’t know which of my many great aunts did the handiwork. They probably all crocheted and quilted, but who knows who made what. I’ll display none of this but can’t bear to just give it to Goodwill. And you’re probably wondering why I wouldn’t save all this for a grandchild. Oddly enough, neither I nor my two sisters have any children, something I don’t think Mom ever quite forgave us for.
When I found a white chenille baby’s bedspread with a pink donkey applique, I remembered it clearly. It’s worn thin in spots, and I know Mother must have used it for my two younger sisters and can only assume she first used it with me. What hit home as I looked at it was that there’s no longer anyone around to ask.
We girls asked Mom to write her memories, and she tried but didn’t get very far. I’d say, though, that there are plenty of memories in her albums and keepsakes. And, of course, each of us has a personal store of memories. As one of my many sympathy cards says, “There are some things that never, ever leave us. A mother’s love is one of them. She will be with you in spirit and in heart forever.” It may be the end of an era, but the memories will last a lifetime.