For the first time in 56 years, I’ve joined the large club of those who are without a living mother on Mother’s Day. The fact that it’s a large club isn’t particularly comforting. Death is widespread, of course, but it’s also so very personal.
Not long ago, my daughter wrote me in an e-mail:
Today I got really sad that Grandmom’s not in my life anymore and that if I ever have a kid, that they’re never gonna have the privilege of meeting her. I really do miss her.
My daughter’s sentiment got me to thinking how important family history is — especially oral history. My paternal grandmother Esther, known as “Love Essie,” was a strong, handsome woman. She was a member of the WCTU, the DAR, the Methodist Church. She was quite disappointed when my father married a Catholic, particularly since both of her other children married outside of her faith. She ended up quite fond, though, of my mother. Love Essie worked closely with her husband, and was his trusted business advisor. She quilted and was musical. She was a strong Republican, and very bright. From what I can gather, by today’s standards, she might well be considered a feminist.
Love Essie also died a few months before I was born. To my regret, I never knew her, I never had the privilege of meeting her – but her legacy lives on. I loved hearing the stories about her from my parents; I still love getting to know her better through my elder cousins, from pictures, home movies, and her daily journals.
My daughter, perhaps, can pass my own mother’s legacy onto her kids – if she has them — the legacy that an oral tradition can effectively maintain. Should that family history tradition continue, personal memories of my Mom’s can be passed on into the next century.
I ‘d like that. But as for today, I’d like more to be able to pick up the phone to call Mom and wish her Happy Mother’s Day.