My parents are gone, but I still have their things. A plate, a chair, a matchbook, a sweater, an old cell phone. Something of them lives on in this stuff. Send a picture of an object and tell me what it does to you and how it makes you feel about your mom and dad, dead or alive. Then go clean up your room. Thank you
Ray Bradbury once said we should leave something behind when we die, something we’ve touched so our souls have a place to go. And when others look at that object or maybe a garden we planted or something else we’ve built, our presence can still be felt.
To me, stories can serve that same purpose.
When I sat down to down to write a memoir and how-to about the years I spent with my mother and father during the last phase of their lives, it was to help other adult children in similar situations. Not until the book was finished, did I understand that sharing the ups and downs of loving and caring for my parents was really a way to hold them close to me. It didn’t matter that frustration and guilt were a part of the picture back then, because the experience was always tempered with moments of laughter, grace and deep connection.
Don’t get me wrong. I do have my own parental museum of stuff - dad’s glasses, my mom’s address book, and their old Scrabble game to name a few. These things will likely never leave my house, but those stories - I carry them with me everywhere.