Over the fifty years I was together with my wife we accumulated a lot of things. The only difference was, most of my stuff was out in the garages and hers was in the house. But now the time has come to weed through all of it and decide what is worth keeping for posterity and what has to go. My wife’s family is all gone now so there is no interest there. My own children, some whom have been married for thirty years themselves, have no interest either. Most of it is old pictures and papers and tossing them away seems so cold. So that is my quandary and I’m a long way from done.
But this is really not about what I found in all of those boxes but about one thing in particular I came across the other day. It was a baby book. The kind your mother keeps for you. Notes about your development from a baby to a child, written by your mother. What was so mind blowing for me was, this wasn’t my wife’s baby book or our kid’s book but my baby book and I didn’t even know it existed.
You see my mother left my father and her family when I was four years old and my kid brother was two. Why this happened is not important to this essay. My father later remarried and I was blest with a wonderful stepmother and six more siblings. Over the years I was made aware of my mother but until I was a young man she made little effort to see me. She and all of my parents have long since passed away.
My father must have passed this box of pictures and papers on to my wife before he died and she either wasn’t aware that it was in there or knowing my past, thought it might be too painful for me to deal with, and didn’t show it to me. Either way right now I was looking at it for the first time. I was reading my mothers musings written seventy-five years ago. There were swatches of my baby hair and baby pictures I had never seen before. Her name scrawled on a birthday card was the only other time I had seen her writing. As I read through this I was getting to know more about her then I ever knew before, twenty some years after she died. I can’t share what she wrote but it made me cry. All I ever knew about her was all the wrong things she may have done and now here was a woman seemingly so in love with her infant son.
Over the years, family and friends who knew my past have asked me if I loved my mother? I have a hard time answering this because in my past there was another woman who was the only mother I ever knew. Someone who earned my love and respect. Do you love someone because of blood ties more then the one who took care of you when you were sick and sad. I don’t know and I don’t know if I will ever know. But I do know as I read what she wrote, that no matter if I loved her not, she loved me. To those of you out there who have split up a family for whatever reason, I ask that you make every effort to keep your kids front and center. To love them and be a part of their lives even if you can’t live in the same house. Don’t make them wonder years later if they really loved you or not. Love is such a beautiful thing and the more people you can love in your life, the better a person you will be for it. Someday when you are old like I am now, you will need that love from your children. Especially when you’re all alone in the world once more.