Mar 3, 2023
My mother died a year ago. Cleaning out her home office brought about some questions for my father and me as we gathered her things.
My mother died nearly one year ago today. It was March 5th, the day after my birthday. I think of her frequently. Last week, my wife, my daughter, and my son and I placed purple flowers on her headstone for her birthday. Purple was her favorite color. We bought a purple orchid on the way home to remind us of her and it’s now sitting in the kitchen window.
Last week I said in an interview that doing these commentaries helps me process things, they help me think through things that I’m seeing or that are going on inside.
Which leads me to a somber day several weeks ago when my father and I cleaned out my mother’s home office. Lots of the stuff in there was easy to throw away – stuff that made no sense to either of us.
However, some of the things did make me pause. What do you do with your mother’s faded black and white pictures of family members from long, long ago that have no notes or identifiers on them? They were important enough to her to set aside. But, without her explanation, they’re no one to me. My dad and decided to keep them, hoping the decision about what to do would be easier when we found them again someday.
And I came across a Ziploc bag full of inspirational and spiritual and motivational quotes she’d had collected for what appeared to be half her life. Some were torn out of books. Many appeared hurriedly handwritten in her beautiful handwriting before the disease took her ability to write. Like she heard it and quickly captured it on a receipt or a church bulletin. There were probably two hundred of them. They meant something to her. Maybe, they even shaped her in some way or another. The ideals and attitudes she cherished, that she’d taken the time to gather for many years, sat in a Ziplock bag in my hands. Without her explanation, though, they were meaningless.
Is it possible to capture someone, to gather who they were and how they engaged life in a plastic bag full of torn out pages and handwritten quotes? No, I don’t think so. But what do you do with something that was once so important to someone who’s now gone?
I’ve been a bit surprised by how quickly my mother has disappeared since her death one year ago. How quickly all of us who loved her have moved on. I remember her daily which, I suppose, should be no surprise.
And the same will happen to you and me. We will vanish from the lives of our cherished loved ones. They’ll come clean out our stuff and throw most of it away. We will be very gone. It’s what the wisdom teachers and philosophers have told us for thousands of years. And, of course, my mother cares the least about this. The benefit of the deceased they don’t have to make decisions about their stuff.
And I think about these things. Like r ight now. As I stare at a Ziplock back full of meaningless quotes now sitting on the edge of my desk that, in some unexplainable way, capture my mother.
I’m Cam Marston, and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.