I spent Saturday afternoon helping my dad do some cleaning around his house. The house is full of memories-memories from my childhood and memories of my mom. I love going there-it's one of my favorite places to be. I love the peacefulness and the joy I have when I am there. It's a calm place for me, full of warmth and happiness. Sure, there were moments of stress growing up, but those are not the memories that surround me.
As I cleaned, I came across many things. Items I know to be there, but items I love seeing nonetheless, because of the memories that come with them. As I've said before, we loved playing games growing up. One of my mom's favorite games was Scrabble. She was very good at it, too. Her scrabble game was on one of the shelves I dusted, and I spent a moment remembering (as I typically do when I am home). Mom would play Scrabble with several different people-Judy, Eleanor, Libby, Aunt Soni and Aunt Sandi, or even my brothers. (This was not one of the games I usually played with mom. ) My mother in law and mom would play sometimes , too. Anyway, mom had a love for words. She was really good at Scrabble and loved playing that game. She loved to write . There are drawers full of mom's writings- a lot of short stories she wrote growing up. Mom loved songs, too, as I've said before, and often times as she was cleaning up or teaching us Bible verses, she would make up a rhyme or a poem to go with the teachings in order to help us remember. Mom liked to write letters- I've really been thankful that I kept many little notes she wrote to me through the years. As we moved a year ago, I found a lot of those in a box and I have appreciated pulling those out and reading her words these days, and almost hearing her voice through those old cards. Mom loved to read. I remember mom many nights sitting out in the living room until the middle of the night reading a book because she couldn't put it down. For many years, mom was in charge of the church library, and she would take great care with those books-cataloging them, checking them, taping them if need be. Mom would read books to us all the time growing up-sometimes it was a chapter book while we drove on a trip. Sometimes it was a short story that had a point to it. Sometimes it was just a made up story she would tell to entertain us. She never lost her imagination...sometimes we, as adults, do, but mom never seemed to. That love of words has been passed on to me, and it is also being lived out through my daughter. In fact, both my brothers and my sister also grasped onto that love of books that mom seemingly passed onto each of us.
Elizabeth (my daughter) spent a portion of Saturday afternoon (while I was cleaning) , going through the bookshelf at mom and dad's and choosing out books to read. Many of the books that I had when I was a child are still on those shelves, and hold great memories of mom (and sometimes dad) reading to me. Some of the books were by some of mom's favorite authors. And of course there are some classics as well that sit on the shelves.Elizabeth found a worn out book (actually, she found several) and asked if she could borrow them to read. One includes The Mouse and the Motorcycle, one of my childhood books. She also found some unknown books which she also chose to borrow. She came to me and asked "Mommy, why are there so many old books here?" I smiled and replied " Because Nana loved to read, and she held onto her books from growing up and read them to us and then held onto them to read to her grandchildren...and she wore them out reading them over and over...." It was a special moment to share with my daughter. My mom passed many things onto me through how she lived and loved and just one of those was a love for words and reading. One last memory to share and then I will share a few books I recommend. When mom was rediagnosed in 2009, somewhere in 2010 she brought a book to me to read. She said " This is a really great book, Rachael, and I'd like you to read it if you want. Then when you finish, there is a movie of the book coming out and I'd like to take you. But I will warn you, it is sad..,but good."
Of course I took the book to read... A couple of months later we saw the movie together. That will be a forever memory for me. The book hit close to home for one thing, but even more so because it became something mom and I did together before cancer set in strong. That book is called the Last Song, by Nicolas Sparks. I would share how it ended but perhaps you may want to read it and I do not want to spoil it. I will leave you with a list of some of my mom's and my favorite books.
Anne of Green gables
The Last Song
Safely home (by Randy Alcorn)
The Long Goodbye ( a journey of one woman's grief)
Choosing to See (one of my personal favorites)
Your scars are beautiful to God
The list goes on and on, as mom loved many books, and I am continuing to grow my library. Life is continuing to move forward, one day at a time, but I still find mom in so many of the moments.