I apologize ahead of time if this post appears disjointed. I guess if there’s any common theme here, it’s about ways we choose to honour those close to us who are no longer around. I think with Christmas coming, many of us are feeling our loses more keenly…I know I am. And based on conversations I’ve had with several women I work with, they are in a similar place.
I was talking to one co-worker the other day about her mom, who passed away 13 years ago on December 20th. Her mom came from an alcoholic family and her brothers and father weren’t especially nice to her. In fact, they treated her very badly. But my co-worker said her mom never once said a bad word about any of them.
She told me that she was driving back from university with her mom very shortly before her mother’s death, and she asked her how it was that she was never tempted to talking badly about her relatives. Here’s her answer: “You have your relationship with my family as I have my relationship with them. I have no right to do or say anything that might alter in any way your own relationship with them.”
Wow! I think about the times that I’ve grumbled to others about someone and I feel guilty. She’s right…my angry words (often poorly chosen) could have the power to change, even slightly, how they view that other person. It takes a wise person to realize some power should not be used.
Keeping that story alive is a way for my co-worker to honour her mom, and it certainly provided me with a strong ‘aha’ moment.
Another co-worker was telling me this morning that she goes to the church and sings Christmas carols in the church choir every year, because her mom (who’s been dead for several years now) loved singing carols in church and was a member of the choir.
And there are my own rituals around this sort of thing. At Christmas and other special holidays, for instance, we always set an extra place at the table and fill the plate with everything being served at that meal for those who can’t be with us on that day. Of course my most recent way of honouring my dad in particular has to do with a potato. I’ve written here before about my quest to find a heritage variety of potato that my father always grew. Today I heard from a man in Nova Scotia who still grows that potato. I smiled as I read his discription of his gramma’s favourite meal ( salt herring and Prince Albert potatoes – a favourite of my father’s too), and how he still grows a few of those potatoes every year just to keep them going. He wrote, “So pleased to know that at least one person will admit these potatoes existed.” He’s promised to send me a few in the mail next week.
While I’m pretty sure I have a Whitehorse source for these potatoes (a bizarre tale in itself that you can read about here), I can’t be certain as I haven’t seen them in person and my Whitehorse woman doesn’t know them by the name Prince Albert, so this man’s kind offer to send me some pretty much guarantees that I’ll be able to keep this potato going in my father’s honour.