If you asked me to characterize my relationship with my mother, it isn’t always easy to capture. I love and respect her in many ways. She brought my twelve siblings and I into this world and has led a hard-working, dedicated life for her husband, children, and extended family. She is the matriarch of a brood that now numbers over one hundred.
Her story is not my story to tell, but I think difficulties in her own family in her younger years left a weight on her that never fully lifted.
Yet, she has given so much of herself in many ways. There are key ways I am like my mom, and they are blessings in my life.
One way my mom has rubbed off on me in a truly helpful and nurturing fashion is her love of the outdoors and paying attention to the changing seasons and weather. I think most of my siblings are similar to me in our appreciation for nature and fresh air, regardless if that air is heavy and humid in July or frigid and crisp in January.
Mom and Dad instilled in us a respect for nature, both the beauty and the power of it. Time outside was always a part of their lives, from the farming to the gardens and lawn, to our open spaces to play in. Nature is a consistent source of gratitude and comfort in my life today, and I can especially thank Mom for that.
A second way I am like my mom is that we share an affinity for writing. Between us, we have filled dozens of journals and diaries. This is a picture of one of her early diaries:
Inside, it tells us that she got it for her 14th birthday, which was in 1945. She turned it into a one-year diary. She kept journals for a few years and then got busy with family and farm life after marrying Dad. She returned more consistently to her diaries by the 1980’s and continues to this day. She has been gifted journals over the years by many of us. Her writing chronicles the daily happenings, the weather, and special things that were going on at that particular time.
Here is a picture of my first journal, a one-year diary I got for Christmas when I was 11:
The first entry is January 1, 1977. With some lags here and there, I have pretty much been journaling ever since. I have branched out to write journals to my son and ones that focus on gratitude. I also have ones that contain my life story as it has unfolded. Details and dates I would have long forgotten are preserved. Unlike my mom’s journals, mine capture a deeper level of emotions; both pleasant and painful.
There is a loving and bittersweet thing my mom has done in her journaling since my dad died in October of 1998. She writes her entries as if she is writing them to Dad, her husband of 48 years. I find that so very touching. She may not write about or talk about her feelings much, but they are evident in other ways.
And I return to common ground. Though my mom downplays her stack of journals, I think they have served numerous purposes in her life just like mine have in my life. The writer in me relates to the writer in her. The writer in me thanks the writer in her.