13.1.21

Don't let it be too late

 For years, my parents went to my sister's in Canada for Christmas and New Years - they helped with the tree, the stockings, the gifts and other traditions.  Two years ago, my mother was in hospice and then died, and last year my father was able to go to Canada.  This year, though, that was impossible because the boarder is closed.  We worried about him being all alone in the house on the anniversary of her death, so when he mentioned a Zoom for her Yahrzeit we quickly agreed... and then I had the idea to invite as many family members as we could as a surprise.  

There were  only 20 others who came ("only" 20, because I have probably 50-60 relatives that could have come) but the look on Dad's face when he logged into the Zoom and saw everyone was wonderful.  Instead of just three of us lighting the candle and saying Kaddish, there were others who also shared our grief at her loss and shared some of their memories of her.  As my father said later, it brought back their early days together (he remembered boiling bottles for my formula) and helped erase her last year.  

After, I got an email from a cousin who had spent a week a year with them as an adult.  He said, It was also interesting for me to hear so many people tell such wonderful stories about your mother, and to realize sadly that I really barely knew her."  Well, duh.

My mother told me several times that when he visited, or when my parents visited his sister, she felt very uncomfortable.  When they got me, she stayed home to take care of me -- and later, my sister -- but also did so many other things, like learning languages and tutoring and becoming a docent at the local art museum, and managing all our international travel and our investments and taking tax prep classes, and... and... and... I could go on.  But she never felt as though either of these siblings valued what she did or understood how damn smart she was (that part she never said, but honestly, she really was smarter than most people I know).  Later, his sister wrote, "Aunt B very much modeled giving a damn about people, both those that she was close to and those she didn’t even know, and showing up, again and again, whether by boycotting, rallying, or traveling to be with someone in need of support."

How I wish Mom was still alive to hear that.  

Don't let it be too late to tell the people in your life how much you value them.

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