How I want my children to remember me

Mom and me in our 30's

1946 My mom was a secretary at a German POW camp
in Arizona
1988 I was climbing hill sides in search of rocks
in Arizona.

My mother passed away in 1993. She wanted the yard to look nice when husband #4 and I arrived for a vacation visit, mowing the lawn 2 days straight in 100 degree weather under sunny skies. A friend who lived a few dirt roads down the hill warned her to wear a hat, but she reassured her friend she would be all right.

 “I love the sun,” she said.  Unfortunately, the sun didn’t feel the same way.

It took a week for her to die as her brain swelled from sunstroke causing headaches I pray I’ll never experience, unable to recognize her family the last 2 days of life. Among her possessions were piles of journal entries.

My sister and I read through some of her diary, giving up on gleaning any emotional diamonds from it as entry upon entry read like this:

9am Bob and I had oatmeal

10am We planted turnips

1am Bob had a cheese sandwich and a beer. I had a salad.

4pm Bob and I watched the news.

8pm Bob made bean soup for dinner.

She remarked at times that many men had proposed marriage to her before she married my father. Why had she refused to marry anyone until the age of 29? Ask for details and you’d hit a barrier thicker than the great wall of China. But that should have been no surprise. When I was a child, she would never say, “That remark hurt my feelings.” Her answer to a wounded psyche was to ground me for a week because my pencil wasn’t sharpened correctly.

That is why it’s so important to leave a vignette of my life, my thoughts…my emotions for my children and grandchildren. This, in turn, might help them match up any diamonds in my personality with theirs as well as to understand where the lumps of coal came from.

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My 2 children dressing in their comfort zone. Allowing your children to develop their own style helps them to follow their own path, listen to their own heart, and find in life what it is that they love.

I want my children to remember me as the woman who told them over the years:

  • “If God asked me to pick 2 souls to have as my children, I would pick you every time. You’re the best daughter and son anyone could ever want.”
  • “I like the way you finished your homework/chores___(fill in the blanks here INSTEAD of saying,”you didn’t do it right!! You have to do it perfect!!”).
  • “Giving birth to you was the best decision of my life.”
  • “Know yourself and the answers will come.”
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Somewhere in the Western desert 1987
On a Geology field trip.
The words on the t-shirt say, “Psychotic State.”

I want my children and grandchildren to remember me as

  • the woman who loved running up hills in hiking boots with a geology hammer in her hand, eager to learn about the different igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks in the mountains of Nevada, California, Utah and New Mexico.
  • the woman who bought the Silver colored Chevy station wagon with a 3rd row of seats that faced the rear window so they could enjoy going up and down the hills of San Francisco just for the fun of it–as well as the adventures we enjoyed (like our trip to the Pacific Northwest).
  • the widowed mother who continued her college education and achieved a B. S. in Rehabilitation Psychology using books on tape, taking my kids to class with me on occasion so they could see how important it was to get an education.
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Trip to Sequoia National Park and the Oregon Coast 1987
Silver 1985 Chevy Celebrity Station Wagon

When people ask how I had children who became such magnificent adults, I tell them, “My kids raised themselves well.” That generally gets a snicker, but there is a lot of truth in what I say. Their friends from childhood didn’t fare so well–at least 3 ending up in jail, divorce court, and/or leading marginal lives. God gave me exceptional children to raise–children who lost their father at the age of 7 and 5, gained a stepfather at 9 and 11, lost him through divorce when they were 13 and 15, then endured yet another of my marriages that was destined to fail.

  • After the age of 9, my daughter attended a different school every year.  Many children would have difficulty adapting.  My daughter developed an amazing  sense of humor, becoming friends with the popular girls at almost every school she attended. She has an M.S. in sociology.
  • When my son turned 17, he finished his last year of high school in Spain as an exchange student (thanks to my sister’s generosity). He went on to earn a doctorate in languages (he speaks 3 fluently), and find work doing what he loves.
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3 generations
Top row: My sister and me
Middle: My father and mother (he had a 5th grade education. She had a high school diploma–a rarity at the time)
Bottom Row: My son and daughter (picture taken in 1984 only a few months after their father passed away).

Yes, I started this blog simply because literary agents recommended doing it. I continue it so that at the end of my life, whether that’s next week, next year, or 40 years from now, my children, grandchildren and (hopefully) great grandchildren will have more information about me than a few pictures of some woman in funny clothing, a dietary diary, and a handwriting sample.

When it’s my time to pass on, I want it to happen when I’m in the middle of doing something meaningful. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the desert on a field trip, defending my property from the zombie apocalypse, or typing my next blog.  I want my children, grand children and great grand children to remember that the only way you can live a happy life to it’s fullest is to

  • do what you love,
  • stand for what you believe in,
  • and listen to that gentle voice inside you that guides you along your path in life. 

I have no doubt this message could be written with greater eloquence, but I have to say it could not have been written with a more loving heart.