Category Archives: family

5/28 May-be

10 girls enjoying pizza after a pool party
1 girl celebrating her 11th birthday
1 best friend from another town
1 girl losing her tooth while she ate
3 girls huddled together, singing a song and rapping on the table
3 girls watching everything quietly from corner positions
1 girl with a green explosion of color on her hair, apparently applied in the pool changing room

10 girls on the threshold
of what lies beyond childhood


marcescence 2

(this kind of goes along with yesterday’s post…)

My mom wrote letters to her mother once a week throughout her adult life as long as herimage mom was alive. Onion skin-like sheets of paper typed single space and often with carbon paper so she could send a duplicate to someone else.

My grandmother saved every one – tucked in their original envelope, stacked neatly in shoe boxes.

Now my mother, currently older than my grandmother was when she died 30 years ago, is dutifully pulling those letters from the envelopes, reading them and putting them into plastic sleeves.

She tells me she doesn’t remember half the stuff she wrote about all those years ago. I’ve read a few of the letters as well as some I sent to my grandmother – because she saved those too – and I don’t remember the stuff I wrote about either.  Or what I read just really doesn’t match up with what I’ve come to remember as most consequential from those blocks of time.  I am realizing that what I chose to document really isn’t what became  most important after all.

My mom is putting the plastic sleeves into now bulging notebooks.  “I don’t know what you guys will do with these.” (I have 3 siblings.)  “I don’t really care, maybe you don’t really care.”

I don’t know how I feel.  I read through some of the story bits and am entertained. There are snippets of accounts of our escapades in school, camp, family trips, daily doings. There are little sketches and poems and doodles and stanzas from camp songs. It is charming, all of it.

But I don’t know what to hold on to or let go.  Does an account like this matter – filling in the gaps as it does – when what we actually remember and hold dear is vastly different or at best only a mere essence of the recorded detail?   Does accuracy in memory really matter when time creates a new reality?   Will knowing what my mom recorded as significant affect or change my relationship with her, my dad, my siblings or myself?

Marcescence

shall I let these carefully preserved records of daily details fall as compost to the new memories I’m creating every day

and/or

keep them in place in their plastic sleeves, preserving their truth and posterity, as witness to the past

or

let them go

(I know my siblings will have their own opinions)

I suppose all memories eventually become fodder – forgotten, discarded, or folded into some new venture. The present continuously demands our full attention no matter the care we take to preserve the past – plastic sleeves, shoe boxes, notebooks, blogs, Facebook.  Time will not be denied the light of tomorrow and tomorrow’s light always alters what we see through a lens.


marcescence

do you know this  word?  the definition is: the withering of, but not falling off, as in part of a plant

I discovered this word because I wanted to know why the oak trees that line my street don’t imageshed their leaves in autumn.  Their dry, brown leaves cling desperately throughout the winter wind and rain and then drop just before new buds appear in late spring.  Apparently this is what happens with oak and beech trees.  I found this out by “Googling” my question and read a lovely answer by Michael Snyder at Northernwoodlands.org.  Botanists don’t really know why some trees do this.  Evergreens appear green all year but actually replace all their needles.  Most deciduous trees drop all their leaves in autumn.  But not these two particular species.  No one knows why but the two suppositions are:
1) they drop their leaves in spring to provide their own compost at a time most useful to have extra nutrients
2) the dried leaves provide protection for new buds against nibbling deer and moose and the effects of winter snow and weather

I kind of like thinking about this – wondering about my own efforts at marcescence……..

Evergreen? Maple? Alder? Oak? Beech?  what do I hold on to for months at a time, what do I let go of all at once, what changes are so subtle I don’t even know they are happening?

How about for you?

(it’s day one of the Slice of Life month long writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers – check it out!)

 


have you had the conversation?

During October, I participated in some discussions at our church titled “Living Better, Dying Better.”  I was only able to attend 3 out of the 4 sessions but it was enough to jumpstart my thinking about how to support family members to have discussions about how they want to live as they die.

I think my parents have filled out Advance Directives – and given me and my sibs copies – but it is time to revisit them.  A suggestion is to review them every 5 years.

Today I visited my 92 year old mother-in-law and began the conversation. I know plenty of fuss has been made about her will and finances etc. but I wasn’t sure about the health side of things.  I took her a copy of the Five Wishes pdf and another document that supports this conversation as well.

“No, I haven’t talked about these things,” was her answer, “but I can see it would be a good idea.”

So I left a purple folder with the documents and suggested she sit with them and write on them as though she was writing a letter.  She writes beautiful birthday card sentiments.  Her own birthday is coming up in December. So this can be her birthday and Christmas sentiments to us all this year.

I know I’ll have to bring the topic up again – because it is hard, and because she’s forgetful and because it should be something shared with her family.

It is a discussion I need to think about and plan for myself too – so I’ve downloaded the starter kit from the Conversation Project and this Christmas, it will be some homework for me.