For the last few years I’ve written Ma’s Christmas cards for her so all she just has to do is sign. Every year, the list gets shorter as friends and family die. This year as I went through Ma’s address book I had to cross off five people. Each page had names and addresses with a cross through them and I paused to reflect on each person as I made my way though the book.
There was Joan, a cousin of my Dad’s, who passed away at the beginning of November. She would have turned 93 this year. A good innings. She was a kindred spirit to me and I think of her often. She loved cricket and the Sea Eagles. She was as sharp as a tack and would discuss world affairs and the Australian political scene. We talked often on the phone and she’d always ring on my Dad’s birthday, even when he’d passed. She didn’t have many relatives left and I became concerned after I couldn’t raise her. I only found out she’d died after a friend managed to track down the church she went to.
That got me to thinking about my own mortality. If you die and nobody mourns your passing does it mean you never existed?
The possessions you’ve amassed, the photos you’ve taken, the music you’ve collected becomes just a pile of stuff that gets divvied up. Things that held great meaning to you no longer hold any meaning because you’re no longer there to give them meaning. So maybe it’s time to let go of the possessions and focus on relationships and building memories. Yes, your memories will die with you, but the impact on others will continue to live on through them.
I look at my Ma and know that our time together grows short. Every time I look at the mess in the house and think of all of the jobs that need doing I think of Ma and about storing memories. The mess and the jobs will all still be there but Ma may not.