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[personal profile] debgeisler
Not long ago, I had an epiphany of sorts, while trying to understand grief and how I continue to feel about my mother's death. The epiphany was an awareness that the childhood longer existed. She was gone and dead, just as Mom was gone. There was no one else left who remembered me from day to day as I grew up. My siblings remember snapshots, but they are also all younger than I am. My aunts remember snippets, but those are even more few and far between.

It's hard, this giving up of self. Each time we lose someone, we lose the shared memories that no one else was privy to. The closer they were, the more private moments...and the more they remember us from a different perspective than anyone else.

I wonder, then, if my grieving is for Mom (who, after all, was ready to go and honestly at peace) or, in a very selfish way, it is for the me of yesteryear.

Today, I stumbled on this quote, never having read the work, and this hit me all over again:
“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Yeah. That, too. There is no looking at Mom and saying "Do you remember?" So the memory itself is a feather, easily blown away.

When I want to feel better (and am I lying to myself in saying this?), it is to ponder that my remembering means Mom still exists...the Mom of my childhood, "Deb's Mom," is not really gone.

on 2015-11-10 04:48 am (UTC)
ext_73228: Headshot of Geri Sullivan, cropped from Ultraman Hugo pix (Indian Pipe)
Posted by [identity profile]
Insightful. Your comment about being the oldest child resonates with differences I've noticed in my sister's and my memories during the 3 years since our Daddy died. She was the middle child, but with our brother gone, she now has the oldest set of memories in the immediate family. She has a lot of memories, and a lot more specificity in many memories we share, due to being 4 years older than I am.

It's hard, this giving up of self. Each time we lose someone, we lose the shared memories that no one else was privy to. The closer they were, the more private moments...and the more they remember us from a different perspective than anyone else.

I wonder, then, if my grieving is for Mom (who, after all, was ready to go and honestly at peace) or, in a very selfish way, it is for the me of yesteryear.

Daddy's death was a blessing for him, and I'm glad for him that he got that blessing. With him, I don't so much grieve the loss of the me who had the blessing of sharing 57 years on the same planet with him, but instead the loss of the presence of health, happy, though, yes, aged Daddy in my on-going life.

But the one thing I've learned about grief is that for all the commonalities, it's different for me every time. I spent the late 1980s through the late 1990s in dear friendship with Walt Willis, Chuch Harris, James White, & Vin¢ Clarke. Then they all died within 12 months of each other. I mourn the loss of the fan I was then. It was a wondrous time. While I can see threads, wisps, of those friendships and times in the fan I am today, mostly that me is just plain gone. Or so it feels.

Your wonderings about memory and existence are triggering all sorts of side thoughts related to the loss of memory (via Alzheimer's and related diseases) and continued physical existence. No epiphanies, alas. Just more questions.

on 2015-11-10 12:58 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I think each sibling remembers from a different perspective. Certainly they know different things and react to them differently. My youngest sister, for instance, knew almost nothing of my Dad's military service in the Navy. Probably I knew the most of us, and that was mainly from asking the right questions at the right times.

Memory...fascinates me. But loss of memory horrifies me, since I am who I was.


on 2015-11-10 06:56 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] margaret organ-kean (from
I'm the only one who remembers all of our marriage now. Things I forget won't be known to anyone.

Re: Memory

on 2015-11-10 12:37 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Yes. Yes, exactly. Losing a spouse - all of the laughter, the small things, the day to day stuff that gives comfort and framework for our lives. *hugs* to you, Margaret.

on 2015-11-10 09:25 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Because my dad died when I was so young, it means that most of my memories of him, my mom is also present in. So I still often have someone I can turn to and say, "do you remember?" But for those memories of my father that I don't share with my mom, I find myself going over and over them again, like I'm trying to create wagon wheel ruts that will still be there years from now (yep, I'm definitely from Kansas with that metaphor). Not just in the sense of remembering them, but reliving them. The truth is, I have no idea if I would be as involved in fandom as I am now if my dad hadn't died. Because part of my drive to help run ConQuesT comes from the fact that it was so important to him. And part of the reason I've thrown myself into Worldcon is because he attended MAC back in 76 when he was only 15. It's like by throwing myself into these experiences now, I feel closer to the memories of those experiences I share with him.

I also find myself creating phantom memories with my dad. I can tell you exactly what his reaction to the seventh Harry Potter book was, even though he passed a few months before it came out. I can picture me and him at Game 2 of this year's World Series just as easily as I can picture me and my mom (who I actually went with). It's like I'm able to see into this alternate universe where he's still here, and see what those big moments would have be like. --Jesi

on 2015-11-10 12:41 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
:-) Whatever we do in someone's memory expands who they were. That is, I think, a fine thing you do.

on 2015-11-10 06:30 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Very well said. I'm an only child, so there are a lot of memories that nobody else will be able to share.

on 2015-11-11 12:03 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I'm much younger than the rest of my siblings (who are 12, 9, and 8 years older than I am), and my father's been gone since 1993, so once my 91-year-old mother, who is beginning to flag, is gone, too, that'll be it for most of my childhood memories (my siblings quit traveling with us when I was seven, and all got married the year I turned 12).

Except for my childhood best friend who came to spend a few days with me this summer to celebrate our 50th anniversary -- we met in first grade, and I don't remember a whole lot from before then, anyway. We didn't have contact for several decades, but she found me on Facebook several years ago, and I am so grateful we're in contact again. She remembers my childhood, and I hers, and because we're the same age, we're more likely, at least, not to outlive each other by much. It's not the same as sharing the same house growing up, but it's way better than what I'd have without her.

I do have to admit that I really don't have any urge to write Mark Zuckerberg and thank him, however.

on 2015-11-11 12:40 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
As I find so often, your words resonate with me, and I thank you for them.

The thing that keeps getting hammered home to me (and my Mom died in 2007) is that I am now "the elder" of my family. When we take a "generations" picture, there are only three generations. It is a reality that made me realize that as long as my mother was alive, I was content to be "the daughter" and now I'm "the grown up." And now I am the keeper of so many of the family memories.

Memories sustain us. Memories shape us. Memories are the link from generation to generation. Not long ago I shared some memories of GG (great-gramma) with my granddaughter who was in the womb when Mom died. The sharing was prompted by a picture on the wall. I told her how much GG loved to teach, how she loved family, how she wasn't at all crafty, but learned to needlepoint. I explained how so many of our family recipes come from my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. And Brianna said "Wow Grandma! All that was in a picture?" And I said "Nope, all that is in my heart -- and now it's in your too."
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