I think about all of the things I would want to ask if I had an hour with my grandma or with my mom. The edges of stories have become unclear. The family medical histories. The feelings and interpretations of stages of death are always a mystery that I would like to comprehend. But Mom and Grandma are on to greater things, already up.
These things that I write are saved in the computer as “On my way up…” We are all on our way. Up.
When I woke today, I was thinking about the blessed time with family.
When there are moments, people should ask their questions. If they are pertinent questions, you may want to note the answers somewhere! You will forget. The lines will blur.
If you were never going to see someone again, never going to hear their voice, what would you want to know? What would you want to say to them? Stay on top of these things. Life doesn’t have guarantees.
A strange little twist to that topic can be solid representations. Claim them. Ask for post its. Put your name behind or under that wall hanging or glass bird. Even as we live, we send things away that might mean something to someone.
Be straight. Talk about my words. Just say, “When I look at that glass bird, I think of you. Can I claim it?” You could even ask for a piece of paper to write “Jane gets the glass bird”, and have the person pop it in their file with the will.
Mom wore a cross around her neck for years, even a decade. It meant a lot to her, connected her to Dad who wore one to match. That piece of jewelry should have gone to my sister in law, Helaine. She and Mom shared daily walks, talks about religion and politics, a strength and connection that was palpable. To Helaine, it would have represented memories, heart, soul, a living prayer.
But Mom didn’t leave notes about her personal wishes. Even with lots of time for notes, there was no list. I have no list.
And when death happens, the people you live with may do very strange things, very strange indeed. You never know what might happen to your wedding ring or the cross you wear every day. It could be very twisted. People in mourning are not themselves.
Mom’s cross went to a family friend, not someone particularly close to mom, certainly not a daily companion or relative. And her ring? It was converted into a new engagement ring for a woman Dad dated briefly. At least she had been someone who loved mom dearly. But it did not land where Mom would have wanted it to go. I know she doesn’t care now.
Don’t be shy. It’s an honor that you want to know the answers, want to hold the memories.