Other Posts Relating to Remembrances: After a Parent’s Death: Writing a Remembrance, Part II, After an Aging Parent’s Death: Obituaries and Remembrances, Mother’s Memorial Service
We write remembrances after a loved one dies. Written memorials or tributes, usually penned by family members, are used in committal or memorial services or simply shared in conversation. Over time my family has discovered that people who are unable to attend a memorial event often ask for a copy. The purpose of a remembrance is to:
- Share a bit more of a person’s life, especially for people who only knew the person in one arena.
- Remind people of significant, lively, and enjoyable events in a person’s life
- Make people, whether in a memorial service or in conversation, smile and remember.
- Collect memories and stories to hold close during the early months of mourning.
- Express gratitude for a person’s life.
So how did we go about writing our remembrance of Mother? Right after mother died we spent time jotting down our thoughts and remembering our conversations with her. But there were other ways.
Additionally, as we looked around her small rooms, seeing her surroundings in a different light, stories were everywhere — literally and figuratively.
We found ourselves looking over her books and remembering some of the conversations about her many book clubs. (Mother could not read anymore or remember books we had recently read to her, but when prompted she could clearly remember book club selections from past years.) While perusing, we realized a remembrance was practically writing itself. This led us to sit down and recall the following about Mother’s great love of books.
Mother had a zeal for books. We think that at one point she was a member of three book clubs at the same time. And what a library she had! Though she parted with many possessions and books when she moved from her larger South Carolina condo live closer to us, her most prized volumes traveled, and there were many of them.
She owned a large Random House dictionary and at least four small ones, as well as synonym, quotes, and biography reference books — all of which occupied shelves that were easily accessible for quick consults. Mother regularly consulted a huge Columbia Encyclopedia. Her Reader’s Encyclopedia always included bookmarks at half-a-dozen recent literary look-ups. More than two dozen art books and catalogs from the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and other museums were spread around the apartment. Her bookcases featured, among many, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Austin, and Welty, and dozens of other authors, but also countless collections of short stories, literary criticism, and poetry. More recent authors ranged from Salmon Rushdie to Ann Tyler to Margaret Atwood to Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. In fact, most of the prize-winning fiction — Nobel, Pulitzer, Booker, Pen/Faulkner, etc. — were in her library.