Happy Birthday

You would have turned 60 today and I would have been trying to convince you that you’re not old. You would have loved the rain today. You’d wear your big coat and your pretty teal scarf. We’d go to Marie Calendar’s for dinner and we’d both order the soup and salad bar and perhaps some hot tea. We’d eat at least two of those little white bowls of potato cheese soup after finishing our mountains of lettuce and vegetables. We’d have chocolate cake that I’d make from boxed cake mix and it would be decorated poorly, but you’d love it anyway.

I’m not sure where I’d be if you were still here. I’m not sure¬†who I’d be. You shaped and changed me in life and I changed when you died.

I’m not sure how different things would be and I don’t think I should dwell on it. What I do know is that you are still loved, still missed, still remembered. I’ll never get over you.

Happy birthday, Mom. I hope it’s a good one.

Remembering (…or not)

I sort of have a bad long-term memory. Like, if I haven’t used the information in the last few years, I’ve probably forgotten it. Since I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about my childhood, it has all become a blur with arbitrary moments of clarity. Here and there, I’ll remember little details and facts about my past (like the little games my dad used to play with us, or baking cookies with my mom) but I never have many actual stories to tell. Whenever people ask questions like, “what is your favorite childhood memory,” or “what were you like as a kid,” I get really frustrated and kind of sad – I usually have to rely on things that my dad has told me or pictures I’ve seen or little fragments of memory that may not be wholly true.
As I am growing up, this is beginning to scare me a bit. It makes me feel like I’ve lost something huge. Something important. I know that things happened in the past and they have contributed to who I am today, I just can’t really remember what they were. But there are things that seem really valuable, really essential, like memories of my mother or things that I learned in school – as these things slip further and further into the past, they become things that are still sort of a part of me, but I don’t actually have them anymore. Not really. I feel like humans are in the business of making memories, but what happens when those memories just disappear? Some say that you only remember the important things or the things you want to remember, but I’m really beginning to disagree with that (For instance: I want to remember everything about my mother, but I still forget).

Anyway, this is becoming more…serious (for lack of a better word) than I meant for it to be, so I think I’ll stop there …I never quite know what I’m really thinking and/or feeling about something until I write it out ūüėõ

…And maybe this isn’t even a big deal.¬†Maybe this is all just part of growing up. Maybe this is normal.

All That’s Left Standing

About a month ago, my brother and I drove up to visit some family. They live in a city near San Francisco. It is always nice to get away and visit loved ones whom are not often seen, but going away like that is always bittersweet. It is great to be around other people and to be in a different environment, not having to worry about the normal stresses that always seem to pop up at home, but being away also makes me realize how much I actually like being home. Perhaps it is selfish, but I like having my own room, a bathroom with everything just as I have decided to place it, a kitchen in which I can find anything I need without having to open every cupboard door. I like being able to drive without directions, knowing where I want to go and how to get there. I like being able to see my close friends by driving only a few minutes. It causes me to realize that, even though the place that I live is not the most exciting place, I like it here and I miss it when I’m away. But perhaps I allow myself to be too comfortable. [Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and I really enjoyed visiting… as I said… bittersweet].

Well anyway, that was not what this post was going to be about… that was sort of a rabbit trail. What I really wanted to talk about is this: driving around in San Francisco (or riding around, since I wasn’t driving) and seeing the older architecture, passing by a graveyard with its bright white tombstones and walking in a park, seeing benches with little plaques on them, dedicated to various people… these things get my mind going. I begin to imagine. I like seeing those old houses, not only because they are aesthetically pleasing, but also because of all the possibilities of places for my mind to explore. I imagine what this place looked like when it was new, what the city was like, who lived there, who has replaced them over the years and who lives there now. There are so many stories represented by just one building that I will probably never know. It is like this with graveyards and memorials as well. All those names. They represent someone that was most likely loved and missed when they died. They represent lives lived by mostly ordinary people that are only memories until those remembering are no longer living. They represent stories [and I love stories].At one point during our little vacation, we walked through a little concert park within Golden Gate Park. As I briefly mentioned earlier, there were rows and rows of green, wooden benches, most of them with little bronze plaques on the place where spectators would rest their backs. These fascinated me because most of these plaques had the names of people to whom the benches were detected. Many of which had been deceased at the time of the dedication as indicated by the words “In Memory.” Memory. That’s all that these are. Memories. These names are representative of loved ones lost whom the living feel the the utmost necessity to keep alive somehow through memory. This feeling is all too familiar to me, having been trying to keep the memory of my mother alive for a little over three years now. But I think, because of my own experience, this idea fascinates me quite a bit. I can’t help but ask the question, hopefully without sounding insensitive: Is it truly important to remember the dead, or do we only make it thus to make ourselves feel comforted? I understand remembering important people in history for reasons that are obvious, but what about ordinary people? Who, besides me, really stops and looks at old buildings or tombstones or plaques and tries to imagine who these objects represent? And of those, who really knows who these people actually are? Who remembers them now, when those holding them in memory are no longer living? Does it really matter on this earth? It seems that these buildings and names etched in stone and metal are all that are left standing to really memorialize these people. And it all feels so important, but is it really?

Now, I hope that I have not stepped on any toes. I mean no disrespect to those who have passed away and those who miss them. Believe me, I feel that the remembrance of my mother is extremely important… but it is important only to those who knew her or those who are close to me now and care about the things that I care about. So, here I am talking more about whether it is important for others to remember these people. When my mom passed away, I wanted the whole world to stop and remember who she was and to pay their respects to her. But, obviously, that is illogical and unnecessary. This is what I am talking about. All those people forgotten. It could seem like a sad and horrible thing, but I would venture to say that it is not. And, for some reason, I find that fascinating.

[Feel free to discuss this with me in person or in comments or however you communicate with me. I’ve sort of kept these thoughts stewing in my own mind for a while and would be interested to see how others would contribute to or change my thoughts.]

Tribute

I wrote this for my mother’s memorial service which took place on May 17th of this year. I’ve just been thinking about her a lot today and thought I’d post this in honor of her. This is what I wrote:

¬†¬† ¬† “Since my mother’s passing, the picture in my mind of her character has become more vivid. I never completely realized how self-sacrificing she was. She would pretty much do anything for me. No spider was too big, no story too long, no event too boring, no distance too far. She always took care of me before she took care of herself. If I needed her, she was there.
     Of all the things my mother has taught me about, the two things that stick out most are love and prayer.
     She loved without limits and without condition. She allowed the Lord to be the source of that love. She always told me that the only way to truly love is to let Jesus love through us. And thats exactly what she did.
¬†¬† ¬† My mother prayed without ceasing. She knew without a doubt how powerful prayer is. She would pray for the same thing over and over knowing that the Lord was listening and eagerly watching for all the things He would do. She wouldn’t just pray for people who treated her kindly, she would pray just as fervently for the people she should have hated. She knew that prayer could change things.
¬†¬† ¬† There are so many things my mother has instilled in me. I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world. I know that she is now with that God to whom she so¬†diligently¬†prayed. And she will praise him for ever and ever just as¬†diligently. And someday I will join her, singing side by side to our king.”