I’ll get to the nostalgia part in a bit, but first I want to give you the November update. Did you know that this month is National Novel Writing Month? Many intrepid souls set out to write an entire novel in one month… more or less… in what’s called the NaNoWriMo Challenge. I can’t write that fast, but I have been busy and making good headway on my work-in-progress: Colonel Brandon in His Own Words (see two previous posts for more info). With 14 chapters and 35K words, I’m closing in on the halfway point. Although I still have a long way to go, I hope to have it ready for you by early summer.
Time for writing must always rank behind family obligations, though.
As I mentioned in my August Ups and Downs post, my mother just recently passed away. At 89, she had lived a full life, and so it wasn’t a tragic death. Still, we were very close, and it has been hard to say goodbye. For various reasons, we were forced to delay the memorial service for several weeks. And during that period, I did a lot of looking back as I wrote the eulogy and prepared a PowerPoint slide show to commemorate Mom’s life.
I went through tons of pictures, piles of papers, and boxes of memorabilia, coming across some real treasures in the process. Although I was looking for artifacts representing my mother’s life, naturally, I came across a lot from my own too, stirring up memories and feelings of nostalgia.
When I discovered this picture of my mom (age 6) in the process, my first thought was how much she looks like my oldest granddaughter did at the same age! That was so unexpected.
There were lots of childhood pictures of my mom with her younger sister, reminding me of how close they always were (and of how close I am with my own sister). This one also speaks of her life-long fondness for cats, one that I also share.
Some of my favorites, though, are the pictures of my mom and dad together, from when they were young marrieds, then raising a family, and on through to old age: 61 years together before Dad died. I was very fortunate to be born into such a loving, stable home.
You notice we’ve now transitioned into color! Here’s the whole family in front our first house about 1960. (That’s me on the left, standing on the step.)
There are plenty of pictures representing Mom’s love of family, of course. But also a great number showing all the places she travelled in her lifetime – with Dad, with all of us, or on her own. (She made it to 49 of the 50 states as well as 5 of 7 continents.)
Mom was an artist at heart, though, pursuing that calling in earnest once her children were somewhat self-sufficient – studying, painting in almost every medium, exhibiting and selling her work, and also teaching others. Her love of the creative process is something else I shared with her. Although I eventually discovered my true passion was writing, I dabbled in various other art forms first, and Mom and I made a great team at weekend art shows.
So, other than enjoying a walk down memory lane, where am I going with all this? I don’t know exactly, except I felt like I needed to acknowledge Mom’s life and her passing here, sharing a bit of her story with you. By the world’s standards, I suppose, she wasn’t a very important person; she certainly never became rich or famous. Maybe she never accomplished great things. But every life has meaning and value. Every life touches others. That’s certainly true of parents.
It’s all about connections and relationships. And isn’t that what we enjoy most when we’re immersed in a wonderful novel? We can be interested in an individual’s life and adventures, but we care most about whether or not the hero and heroine get together, whether the conflict with their friend/sibling/parent will be resolved.
Jane Austen didn’t write about great military heroes or famous statesmen. She didn’t write sweeping, epic tales of war or the birth of empires. She wrote about fairly ordinary people and their relationships: three or four families in a country village… And yet look how many lives she touched!
Thanks, Mom, for how you loved and cared for your family, and for all you taught me.
Edward’s loss is terrible, and must be felt as such, and these are too early days indeed to think of moderation in grief, either in him or his afflicted daughter, but soon we may hope that our dear Fanny’s sense of duty to that beloved father will rouse her to exertion. For his sake, and as the most acceptable proof of love to the spirit of her departed mother, she will try to be tranquil and resigned.Jane Austen, letter to Cassandra, October 1808