In response to Matthew Petro’s question of What’s real? I am compelled to write about a similar experience I had not too long ago. Shortly after my mother passed away, we were in our family’s kitchen when I opened a box containing a non-descript black and white flecked covered journal. I opened it to find an exhaustive ledger of Christmas gifts that my mother had purchased for us children, as well as for friends and extended family members compiled over the course of well over a dozen years; originating at some of my earliest years and extending well into my teens. As I looked at this record of memories, I was overcome with tears.
My dad suggested I take the book with me, but I did not want to deprive my siblings of the opportunity to discuss this important keepsake. In the weeks and months that followed, it turned out that the book wound up being thrown away without the discussion that I thought this book warranted.
As with any death, I think it’s natural to have regrets. The loss of this book represents my only regret, short of the larger loss of my mom’s place in our life as we raise her seventh grandchild and continue to make our mark in the world as the adults she raised us to be.
I’ve had a couple of years now to think about this book and about what this meant for me. I tried to write down the gifts that were given to Miles this past Christmas in a large, Moleskine journal, but it just did not take. I realize that what worked for my mom, God bless her and her unfathomably, selflessly giving heart, does not work for me.
What I realize is that it’s not so much the gifts that carried the emotional weight (granted they were great, and my parents were amazingly generous and indulgent of our desires), but it was the dreams and aspirations that these gifts signified, and it was my parents wishes to help us further in our goals and dreams that really touches me emotionally. With that in mind, I hope to put in place a ledger as well, a digital one, where I keep track of the birthdays of my nieces and nephews and the relatives that I love. And I hope to update this record with the dreams and aspirations of my family as they grow into adulthood and hopefully into the people they aspire to be. Along the way, I hope to enable them to reach their goals and I hope that this digital file would not be lost and could be handed to them, to each of them as a gift to remember their uncle’s place in their life and who they were along the way.