A person I know has helped write her dad’s obituary. Not that he’s planning to leave anytime soon, but he wants it his way.
I understand that, and I’ve done somewhat the same…at least compiling some of the pertinent data so my kids don’t have to scrounge for it when it is the most difficult.
Again, I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon, but I know my oldest son, especially, is uncomfortable when I mention anything he may deem “unpleasant.”
I know there are many things (which I don’t necessarily want included in any final writing) that my kids don’t really know about their mother. Had I dug deeper with my own parents, I might have discovered some very important information. I wish I’d asked more, recorded more, and even it I didn’t include it in an obituary, it may have made it easier for me to understand certain actions and beliefs.
For instance…highpoints. Aside from the birth of my children and grandchildren, this mom had other highpoints, that they may not have realized, or remembered.
Highpoints include being part of publicizing the discovery of a T.rex skull in Butte County, and its ultimate move to the School of Mines & Technology off a tall, sandy butte, and a Triceratops lift-off from a cliff, and a mammoth kill site find. Highpoints included writing the history of the old School of Ag at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, and the 100-year anniversary history of SDSM&T.
Did my kids know how excited I was about all of that?
Do they know how much I loved traveling to Canada (many times) and all its wonderful places to visit and explore?
Do they realize I was in “hog heaven” when I could see John Denver, Johnny and June Cash, Anne Murray and Bobby Goldsboro perform in person? They know I like to sing; do they know I loved to dance?
Do they remember my fascination with rocks, geology, old cemeteries, history of all kinds?
Do they understand the importance of my meeting Hubert Humphrey and George McGovern?
Do they give credit to the time I’ve invested in discovering, and recording, family history?
Is it possible they don’t know the impact the death of JFK and the Vietnam War made on me, and how it influenced my outlook on life?
When it comes time that they must go through all my “precious keeper” things, will they have in inkling why I saved some of the things I did…even things that date back more than a century?
Why does Mom abhor prejudice, anger, pettiness, lying, abuse and unkindness of any kind? Are there stories there?
Do they understand why the Black Hills and Minnesota have always been “home” to me?
And do they fathom why all the family recipes are precious to me, even though I seldom make them?
Have they figured out why I love certain people, and why some I’m not that crazy about?
Years ago, Tedd said, “Mom’s reading a book. She’s in another world.” Does that make sense to them?
So many things go into making up a person’s personality, and “accomplishments” aren’t always the important story. The “story” is what forms one, good or bad, sad or happy, highpoints and low points–what that person treasures. It’s rolled into memories and people and everything that never can come with a price tag.
The “obituary” part makes sense, somewhat. But I especially wish to have my children understand what I am, what made me who I am, and how that might have influenced even what they are and believe.
I want that to happen now, while I am still around to explain. Family histories gives names, dates, places, but usually not the why or the personality.
I don’t want to leave a legacy of unanswered questions.