I became the default keeper of my mother’s family book. It’s a little book, originally a weekly planner, but she transformed it into the history of her life and important events touching our family.
As the defacto family historian, I’ve done a poor job. There are missing entries for births and important family happenings left unrecorded.
For a year, it has been tucked away in a folder. The last entry was the passing of my son-in-law in 2015. Since then, it’s been too painful to open. The page listing family deaths is getting larger.
Yet, tonight, when I opened it for the first time in a year, I felt the connection to my mother’s life.
She was an amazing woman who, given the means and opportunities not available to her when she was growing up, might well have been a doctor or professor or world-famous humanitarian. Instead, she became a mother (which encompasses doctor, professor, humanitarian and more).
Looking through the family book, I saw her life. She was a compulsive documenter of appliances. She kept records of when the house was painted and the carport washed. Important details were factually written down.
She recorded major health issues in the family. She kept track of the wars and where a family member was stationed. She noted world events, catastrophic hurricanes. She wrote down her own medical history.
And she listed births, deaths (including family pets), marriages, divorces, etc., until she began to lose her sight.
The quote on the first page may have been her own or something she read in a magazine or saw on television. It suited her because it was her.
As I look through the book, I see the courage it took my mother to write down some of the more heartbreaking entries. She outlived so many loved ones, including her own son.
As our family increases, ages, loses and gains members, I will look to this quote. I will summon the courage to keep the history of our family intact. I will look to my mother’s life and summon the courage to keep going ahead.