Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Sweetest Little Thing

 
A couple of weeks ago I received a letter from my sweet grandma. Included in the envelope was this photo of my mom at the age of about seven. I had never seen this photo before, and I was so touched to have this little surprise come to me.
 
Since my mom's passing in October last year, my thoughts of her have been of someone suffering with cancer. Because she spent the final 19 months of her life fighting cancer, that's how I remember her in my most recent memory. Her battle was such a foreign thing for all of us to deal with. We were desperate for more time, hopeful for a cure, and in disbelief that someone as vibrant as our mother would have to endure what she did. When you live in fear and worry for that length of time, it kind of messes with your future thought process a bit. I think, anyway.
 
When this photo of my mom tumbled out of the envelope I was struck by the innocence of her as a little girl. She holds her lunch sack in one hand, and a homemade Easter basket made from a chocolate box in the other. Standing against the chicken coop that was actually their home at the time, she squints into the morning sun as my grandmother - whose shadow appears in the lower right corner - "makes her photograph" onto black and white film.
 
I called my grandmother to thank her for the sweet photo, and I loved the way her voice changed tone when she chuckled and said, "She was just the sweetest little thing." My grandma's tone struck a chord in me and got me thinking about my mom in a different light.
 
I love that this photo reminded me of a happier time. A time when cancer wasn't part of who my mom was. A time when in her youth and innocence, she didn't care that her Easter basket was made from a candy box, or that she lived in a chicken coop (although she did express embarrassment over their living arrangements in later years). She was, at that time, completely free of worry and pain. Her whole life was ahead of her, and she had no idea where that would lead or the people whose lives she would touch. She had her sack lunch and Easter basket, and my grandmother thought enough to take a photo to remember it by.
 
While my most recent memory of my mom is that she was sick, I feel so grateful to be reminded that she lived her life in health. She was sweet and happy and healthy all the way up to her cancer diagnosis. Please let me remember that, and focus on that part of my mom's life rather than the final act. Let me hold on to my grandmother's happy voice when she said, "She was just the sweetest little thing."
 
I see that in the photo, and I know it in my heart.
I miss you, Mom!
 ______________________________________________________
I'm linking up with my sweet friend Sian at From High in the Sky
for her once a month Storytelling Sunday.
 
PS: A very happy birthday to my sweet grandma who turns 93 on Saturday, August 10th.

35 comments:

Amy said...

Many happy returns to your Grandma!

Your post and tribute is simply delightful Deb, and very moving. It is very hard to forget the pain associated with a prolonged illness and it certainly clouds how we remember our loved ones ... I am glad your Grandma was able to send this photo your way so you could remember your Mum's joy and enthusiasm for life.

Audrey said...

Oh Deb. What an amazing surprise ~ I can only imagine how moved you must've been when you saw this picture. And what a gorgeous one it is. Imagine how happy your Mom would be to know it's in your possession now. How sweet of your grandma! I think that maybe over time your thoughts will be less of your Mom's illness and of her healthier days before the cancer. I do not speak from experience necessarily ~ I just imagine it takes a while to get through that stage and to work through those memories. Have you ever read Gail Sheehy's "Passages in Caregiving" ~ reading your post just reminded me of that amazing book which I read a few years ago. She wrote it after her husband's struggle with cancer. Please know that you're in my thoughts!!! (Am I right that you looked a lot like your Mom? It seems so from this picture!!!) Lots of love from here! XOXO

Alison said...

How lovely of your Grandma to remind you that Marti's life wasn't always tainted by illness ....it's a great photo!
Alison xx

Margaret said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mom, and I'm glad you got this wonderful photo to remind you of easier times. Love this.

tainted with a positive view said...

What a wonderful photo to cherish. I, too, have to dig deep to remember my mother before she became ill with cancer and all the bad side effects and results that come with it.

Jane said...

how precious that photo must be that it can bring you happy memories of your mother

Irene said...

Your story is so very moving. That photograph is very precious indeed and your Grandma so special to share it with you. When times are tough, memories like this are a great reminder that there were happier times. It is a wonderful, carefree photograph of your lovely Mum.

Karen said...

What a lovely post Deb and how loving of your Grandma to remind you of the good times x

Becky said...

What a lovely post and a wonderful photograph to remind you that Marti spent the majority of her life illness free. I'll pray that you try and remember her joyful and with enthusiasm for life and not how she was in her last 9 months. xx

Missus Wookie said...

I like the textures and shadows in this photo - that you can see your Grandma in the corner. Cancer is horrible, any decline confuses our memories and I'm so glad that you were able to find joy and innocence about your Mom.

Eleanor said...

A touching post, thank you for sharing it, we truly get a sense of your loss, and yet this photo from grandma will help you move a little step forward.
Be kind to yourself.
x

Sian said...

Happy Birthday to your Grandma (on what would have been my parents anniversary!)

It's a very lovely photo and a very moving story. I understand your feelings too - I think going through something like that makes you less likely to plan ahead...I feel it today, because my parents only had 13 years together and because of that I never looked ahead and imagined celebrating 25 years. It's good to hear that the photo brought some happiness :)

Thanks for the story today Deb

Ruth said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal post. The photo of your mum is gorgeous and how lovely that your Grandma realised that your need to see it was possibly greater than her need to keep it.
I hope Grandma had a wonderful birthday! x

Ladkyis said...

A beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing

JO SOWERBY said...

Your mum looks so gorgeous and amazing. What a lovely picture to have in your collection and I am so glad it enabled you to refocus some of your meories of her. She really was an inspiration to many people. This made me think about myself too. All the pictures of me these day seem to hide the fact that I am mentally ill and I wish, oh how I wish I wasn't. If I could have told myself as a young girl what this would be like I don't think I could have ruined her life. I wonder if my parents look at pictures the way you do and see what' wrong rather than who I am? That really scares me.
I am so very glad your grandma was able to send you such a beautiful picture, I wish my grandma was still here because she is the one person who understands me,
Jo xxx

alexa said...

I am so glad that you have something which reminds you of all the rest of your lovely Mom's life - and that the realisation that much of it was lived squinting into the light and the sunshine is a comfort to you ... And your grandmother also has great sweetness, I think :).

My simple life said...

What a beautiful story. Brought a tear to my eye. Thanks so much for sharing.

Sheena said...

What a lovely surprise from your Grandma x
Your story is beautifully written & brought a lump to my throat.

Miriam said...

Your story is absolutely beautiful. I am so happy that you are beginning to hold your mothers memory in a happier light. I couldn't bear that part of grieving, the part when all you can link mum or dad to is pain and dying.

Mel said...

Its a really great picture - Deco one to display in your home or scrapbook.

scrappyjacky said...

What a lovely and moving post,Deb...I'm so pleased your grandma sent you the photo.

Karen said...

By the time my father died, he was a shadow of his former self. One of the nicest gifts I received after his death was from a friend of his. She framed two photos of him in good health and sent one to both me and my brother. It was so good to be reminded of the handsome, happy man he had been previous to his illness. I'm so glad your grandmother passed the photo on to you!

Sinead said...

This is such a special story, and a really lovely tribute to your Mom. That photo is definitely precious. Thanks for sharing x

Stephanie @ La Dolce Vita said...

what a sweet and special story. I never met your mom, deb, but she must have been amazing to have raised a sweetheart like you! sending you love ... xoxo

Jo said...

What a wonderful story and a beautiful photo. I know what you mean, my father fought Alzheimer's for 12 years and now, nearly 6 years on, I remember him whole more than I remember him sick x

Cheri said...

I'm so glad that photo of your Mom reminds you of the healthier happier times! In the balance, there was a lot more of that than the other. And time does help. When I think of my Mom now, I remember her as the feisty, strong, beautiful, demanding, high-expectations woman she was. And I'm grateful that her "battle" was less than nine months start to finish, with the worst being only the last five months.

Deb@threeisacharm said...

Your mom must have been an amazing woman, Deb! And how lovely of your Grandma to share that photo of her with you, to help you remember another time. Thank you for sharing.

Susi said...

How great that you received the photo and was able to share such a lovely story about your Mother.

Maria Ontiveros said...

What a wonderful story of transition . . . it truly touched my heart to read and gave me such joy. I'm so happy to hear that you are remembering Marti in a better light.
Hugs to you,
Rinda

Lisa-Jane said...

That's so beautiful Deb, so absolutely beautiful. Illness has many sad aspects to it and defining the person is just one of them so I'm glad things are starting to turn around and the bigger picture is coming back into focus for you. What a fantastic surprise though - like a little secret from the past and getting a piece of your Mum back that you never even knew about. xx

tidbitsandtreasures2011 said...

How wonderful that you have this precious photo--as a reminder of a happy and innocent time for your mother. I especially enjoyed how you described the change in your grandmother's voice when she spoke about your mother. It's obvious your mother was very special to both her mother and her daughter.

Kay G. said...

Hello Deb,
I just wanted to say that this is a beautiful post and says a lot about three generations: your grandmother, your mother and you.
"She was just the sweetest little thing" was once said of all three of you, I am sure.
xx

Chipper Newman said...

Happy birthday to your Grandma! August is the best month for birthday ;)
This was such a lovely story. i am glad that your Grandma sent you the photo and stirred up some happy memories for you.

Gail said...

What a wonderful post Deb and such a sweet picture of your Mum. How great that your Grandma thought to send it to you. I bet she thought you needed that. Eventually you do get past the memories of the last months (for my Mum it was 7 months)and remember happier, healthier times. Hugs.

CatieAn said...

HI deb
I am so far behind in my blgo reading and am so happy to come across this post about your momma.
What a great picture and how sweet your grandmother sent it to you. I am so sorry your mother had to suffer. It takes such a toll on the loved ones left behind. I know you will eventually start seeing all those lovely things about your mother and forget the last part of her life spent in illness. Big Hugs.

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