As adult, we are still children. Our parents hold their title and role forever and always. Since babes we have had the contract of what our relationship entailed and what our personification within it was and is. It’s expanded and retracted and morphed but it is still the relationship between parent and child. Even after the passing of a parent to another realm, we hold that relativity closely.
While on a recent shopping trip with my mother, to my parents’ home town I was given the opportunity to broaden our mother/daughter relationship to a more appreciating place. The town was smaller and older with lots of history and beautiful architecture. The main streets were adorned with centurial buildings and bridges over a grand river. I had been in this town before but had never received it as I had this day.
“This was my high school. I got a detention for throwing a snowball off of the second floor balcony”, my 76 year old mother disclosed with a mischievous smile as she pointed to this massive old school house. As we toured by in the car on this cold day, my mother told me story after story of her growing up here and her childhood experiences. She acquainted antidotes of her father coming home from war, adventures with her and her best friend Carol, reminiscence of her 15 year old teen crush, all as she gestured at buildings and streets.
“That’s the bar right there that your dad went to with his buddies and had too many! We were just married and we had plans that night and I was not impressed at all. I threw a head of lettuce at him and told so!”, my mother declared with a feistiness that made me smile. “He never did that again.” We both laughed.
With my father’s passing last year, it was especially lovely to hear the stories of her and my dad as they had been teen sweethearts and continued that love for over 60 years. “It was so windy that day, the veils were blowing everywhere” she shared as I took a picture of the cathedral she and my father were married in a half a century ago. Her eyes were glazed with tears as she wore a big smile on her face.
She shared how her own father, who could be “tough” on her as she was growing up, cried all the way down the aisle. “He said it was because of the ‘damn organ music’ and it got him every time”, she rolled her eyes and smiled. It was amusing to witness her child – parent relationship as she shared various interaction and memories about her mother and father.
As we travelled in car and by foot through, my mother continued to relive moments of her past. She revealed the details of her mother’s sudden death at the age of 53 and that if was just the night before her passing, she had told her mother that she was pregnant with me. The next day my unmet grandmother died of sudden stroke, a complication from a recent surgery. I had heard bits of this story before but somehow being here, in this town, the energy of her recollection was so different. I imagined what that was like for my mom, already having a toddler, being pregnant, in her 20’s and losing her young mother, who she was so close to.
The empathy was profound with the physical buildings of these life experiences standing right in front of us as my mother shared each tale from her heart. There were these layers that I hadn't really heard, understood or comprehended. The revelation of these buried memories shifted and deepened my understanding of my mom, not just as a mother but as her existence as a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, wife and woman.
At home that night as I watched a show with my own family, I had a clear understanding that the valuable inheritance from our parents is not the antique desk or the opal ring passed through generations but the stories and the knowing of how they travelled to this day. The truest gifts are compassionate discernment of where we came from, not just our own upbringing but beyond.
Family treasures were found on a simple shopping day, invaluable and cherished, enriched with a deeper knowing of this woman that I call “Mumzy”. I invite you to seek and find your treasures within your family history, as your life will be richer for it.