My son Carter graduated from high school this past May and is now a full-fledged college student and working as a buser and dish washer on the side. When he was about to graduate he was talking to his grandmother in Colorado about what he wanted for graduation. He didn’t want any money, or fancy gifts. No clothes. To trips. No car. No techno equipment. What he wanted from her was to write down stories of her growing up years so that he could remember her by the experiences she had. No material stuff for graduation, but stories. He wanted to know her and her experiences. That’s all. Just stories.
My mom took his request to heart and began to write stories as well as collect pictures of her past that would tell of her experiences. It became a composite to the windows of her childhood and early adulthood that opened his eyes, and mine. My sister helped with this process and sent a book filled with pictures and words on a page to all family members and opened my eyes to my mother like nothing else has ever done.
I knew that mom had lost an older sister, Ruth, when she was 17. The doctors back then misdiagnosed the symptoms as a flu bug when it was a ruptured appendix. What I didn’t know was the after story of her mom becoming very depressed and crying all day long about losing “My Ruth, my precious Ruth.” My mom got lost in the shuffle as she said, “I began to realize that Mom hardly noticed me anymore. When I would speak to her, she would look at me as I weren’t there. It was almost as if she were mad at me for being alive when her beloved Ruth was dead.” Six months after Ruth’s death her baby brother was born. She didn’t feel wanted. She didn’t feel valued. She didn’t feel important. Insignificant. Unwanted. Devalued. Isolated and alone.
As I read this story, my heart broke for my mom and the pain she experienced during this time in her life. As I read her story, I gained a greater appreciation for what my mom went through and how far she has come in the healing process. How often we go through life and have friends who experience traumatic events and never take the time to hear their hurting hearts and the pain they are going through. O sure, we are there for them at the point of the crisis and say that we will be there for them. But what happens when the shock wears off and we are back into our own routines? What happens then? It’s only when I slowed down and began to read that my perspective changed. The trauma of my mom took on greater significance in my life.
I have the privilege of giving my mother great respect and value for who she is and what she experienced as a result of Carter encouraging her to write her experiences in life down. On this journey, are there people in your life that might benefit from you taking some time to get to know them a little better and gain insight into their lives in the past? Jesus made a statement when He was having the last supper with his disciples when He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. The Bible is a book of past relational experiences that we can learn from. It might be good to take some time to do the same with those we love.