Memories, heritage, smiles and tears

By Meredith Jimenez

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
— Matthew 5:4

She held you, changed your diapers, fed you, and responded to your cries.

He taught you to ride a bike, to play ball, and to work hard.

She prayed for you, waited up for you, and cried with you.

He disciplined you, taught you, and invested in you.

They’ve always been there, just a phone call away… and now they’re gone.

It hits you like a ton of bricks: How can I endure the loss of my parent?

Watching my mother during her final days before she entered eternity was one of the most spiritual experiences in my life. It was heart wrenching and yet beautiful at the same time. 

I was in awe at the peace that she exuded, at the confidence she had in her destination.

You can never truly relate to or empathize with someone who has lost a parent until you find yourself right there.

The bond we share with our parents is unique. While at times that bond is shaken, it is always in place.

Our parents are the first to influence our lives. They impact our future in multiple facets.

Some qualities we see in them we seize upon to replicate in our own lives, and other characteristics or behaviors we vow to improve upon. Sure, we know there are no perfect parents.

Still, releasing them is an experience that is far more difficult than you ever expected. 

You begin to look at the race that was run and at what remains: the life that was lived, the finish line now crossed, the runners continuing on with the baton.

We, the children, are part of what remains: the next generation. How will we continue the race?

Did we take everything we could from our parents? Are there no more lessons to be learned from these old souls? I am here to share with you today that the lessons are still coming.

You will be pleasantly surprised by those sweet moments when you realize your parents are still guiding you through life. A smile will join a tear as you realize that those reference points that you were given years ago are still getting you through this moment or the next.

You will find that the oddest, simplest items all of a sudden take on great value for you. Her favorite sweater. A crochet needle that was the tool she used to create beautiful afghans. Your father's stained coffee mug.

I asked my son what was the one thing he would want in Grandma's house. A piece of furniture, I assumed, but he said what he really wanted was her old, round rug. 

While others would see nothing more than a beat up rug that has outlived its useful life, my son sees himself sitting on that rug playing cards with Grandma; coloring with her; lying down on it with her to watch a movie.

The truth is that value transfers from the items that hold monetary worth (or may have long since lost it) to the true treasures. They are tangible gems that assist us in sharing a story or provoking a laugh as we revisit those fond memories.

The cards, letters, emails, and phone calls that bring heartfelt memories of your parent flooding back can inspire you to a deeper, more intentional life. They remind you of how one life can impact another, sometimes in the simplest possible form.

My mother was a quiet soul, yet she touched so many. She gave of herself in her private work as a caregiver for Alzheimer's patients. To hear the appreciation from the families of those patients fills my heart with admiration and pride.

My friends remember her at gatherings, sitting in her corner set apart from the crowd, yet ready to offer a smile or engage in an encouraging chat with anyone willing to join her.

Her smile and bright eyes were always welcoming, and will be remembered.

As you think of your loved ones and of how they lived, you will catch yourself reflecting on your own life, and on what footprints you want to leave behind.

I know for sure I am not the same person I was a few short months ago.

The sobering reality of death has stung me, but the promise of eternity and a reunion with my loved ones surpasses that feeling with a sweet joy.

My mother has finished the race. 

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant”
— Matthew 25:21

She left this earth reminding us children that she did not want us mourning at a gravesite, because she would not be there. She understood that this life is temporal, and she wanted us to go forward and finish where she left off. To take the torch and make our mark. To end well.

With the faith of a child, my little one prays at night, "Jesus, let Gabaga have a great day in heaven playing her favorite game, Skeeball."
Oh, son, I'm sure she is!