Sunday, October 31, 2010
Sorting through pictures of a life well lived
"Sorting Mommy's Pictures," October 2010, Oakland.
My mother-in-law passed away last Sunday; she was 90 years old. Hers was a life well-lived: as a school teacher, as a military colonel's wife, as a mother to a military general and seven other children, as grandmother and nurturer to 22 grandchildren and six great grandchildren, as a widow who came into her own fierce independence during the last 25 years.
She was a giver through the very last. In her senile stage she would awake in the middle of the night to cook for absent loved ones who peopled her new reality. She will be interred next week, but her true resting place will be in the hearts of those among us who were edified by her goodness. Her goodness will endure, and as my wife and her siblings went through the process of collecting her things, so will her pictures, a cache of them. Images that spanned decades of people she cared for, places she saw. Her husband dancing the tango, her son in his military finery looking fierce during his academy years, countless images of loved ones dining and drinking (Filipinos love to eat), pictures of babies who have grown up to become men and women, and pictures of their own babies.
Memories stored in boxes, old Kodak envelopes, and yellowing photo albums dog-eared and crinkled by repeated viewings. We will cling to these time-worn images to remind ourselves of who we were, and how we used to be when we were graced by the presence of this lovely, generous woman. Godspeed, mommy, we miss you already.