good life with debbie lee
Part of cultivating a good life is finding comfort in knowing that a loved one’s story continues through you.
My mom passed away 21 years ago, just before my 24th birthday. My sister was 20 years old. Losing her was beyond heartbreaking – so much grief, anger, and sadness. We miss her so very much, but we have come a LONG way in healing over the last 21 years. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out – so vibrant, fun, and likeable. She loved life and her daughters more than anything. And we adored her. Still do.
My mom has three grandchildren between my sister and me. Three young people who have never known her in person, who have never heard her laugh, have never experienced her silliness, her sing-song voice, or her love. In my long list of books and topics to scrapbook, creating a tribute book to her is something I plan to do, but it hasn’t happened yet and I don’t know when it will. I so desperately want our kids to know their grandma. When stories or little memories of her come to mind, I always take the opportunity to tell them about it. I have a lot of guilt over not working on that book because the idea of having all the memories, stories, and pictures in one place seems like the best way of relating who she was.
When someone passes, we often hear or say that their memory lives on through us and that they will always be with us in spirit. I took that to mean that memories of my mom will live on in my heart and that I will always feel her with me. Comforting? Yes. True? Yes. But I think it goes deeper than that.
Regarding “telling” her story, it’s only in the last year or so that I have begun to realize I too play a part in my mom’s story. Yes, I am her daughter, but I am a living, breathing version of her. In my 21 years with her, much of her personality was infused in me, either innately or by example. I speak to the kids and I hear her voice. I sing-song through the house or bust a move to an old 80s song or pinch someone’s behind (only family members, of course) and that is totally my mom.
The other day I was grocery shopping and I saw a certain cookie that my niece likes, so I bought it for her because I knew she would like it. It didn’t occur to me until I was standing in line to pay that my mom did little thoughtful things like that all the time. These things are maybe not so much telling my mom’s history, like where she grew up and what her upbringing was like, but living with her as a person is what I remember most and miss most. These funny little quirks or behaviors of mine, that I’m beginning to recognize are also from my mom, are the things I want my children to “feel” and love about their grandma.
People say the sweetest things when we post pictures of our mom on Instagram. But certain things have been standing out to me lately. One friend said, “She was amazing and it shows in you and Donna every day now as mothers.” Another friend said, “Even though I didn’t know her (I feel that I do through your stories), I love her.” If my friend feels that way, then I hope my children do too! I am also told how much I look like her which means that my kids are seeing some of their grandma when they look at me. My son has even told me how much he thinks I look like Grandma.
It is very comforting to know that her story is making its way out to her grandkids, quietly and daily. She lives through my sister and I and probably through other people she touched. We are telling her story through our actions, through our silly ways, through the way we love our children. My kids and my niece are being given a sense of who their grandma was, maybe not first hand, but by a close second. I find great comfort in that. I often feel down on myself for not making that book yet, but I feel so grateful in knowing that I am already telling her story just by being me.
If you have lost a parent or someone close to you, how are you sharing the stories or qualities of that loved one? How interesting to think that book or not, you probably already are every day.
Debbie Lee is a part of our Creative Team using the Project Life® App. Debbie resides in southern California and her family consists of her husband of twenty years, daughter (14), son (11), and Maltipoo daughter (1.5 years).
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