The Legacies of Spring
Celebrating Mothers’ Day &
Commemorating Memorial Day
Reflection 1: Celebrating Mothers’ Day
Most of us didn’t really know our mothers beyond their roles. If they’re gone, we may experience regret and an unending yearning to know who they were: what mattered to them, what and whom they valued and loved, their disappointments and pain, their successes and joy, and their hopes and dreams for us.
As Mothers’ Day approaches, we can turn a Hallmark moment into something meaningful. We can celebrate and honor our mothers, and make progress in healing what is often a complicated relationship.
- Reflect about and choose a favorite story about your mother and your appreciation of her.
“In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.”
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your favorite cup of tea or coffee. Set your timer for just 15 minutes, write your story, and set it aside for a day or so. Then read it aloud to yourself, and edit it to make sure it conveys the celebration in your heart, not whether the syntax or punctuation is perfect.
- If your mother is alive, give the story to her as a gift this Mothers’ Day. Read it aloud to her and give her a copy written in your own hand (even if you wrote it on your computer). Take the opportunity to have a conversation about this story or what it elicits, and take time to ask and listen to your Mother’s memories and stories as well.
- If your mother is not alive, celebrate her memory by reading your story to those who are honoring you this Mothers’ Day. (And include it in your legacy documents, preserving the story as a tribute to her and for future generations who never knew her.
“May your legacy writing open your heart in true celebration of your mother, the legacies you received from her, and to celebrate your own mothering.”
Reflection 2: Commemorating Memorial Day
In theory, Memorial Day is to honor the memories of those who sacrificed their lives in military service for our country. In practice, some visit cemeteries to plant flowers at family graves, but typically we celebrate this long weekend by opening swimming pools and beginning the bar-b-q season.
As a society, we value or are seduced away from our values by speed, by instant communication around the globe and unending streaming distractions.. We’re so busy doing – persuaded that what we do will give us meaning. If we stop long enough to take a breath, which is the opportunity of a holi-day (holy) day, we realize what we really yearn for is intimacy, connections that tether us to earth, community, and to each other.
Our deepest connections and fondest memories may be bound up with those who are no longer living. Intimate connections are not limited to life.
With Memorial Day on the calendar we can make the secular sacred, naming, remembering, communicating with, and preserving memories of family members now gone. Transform your Memorial Day into a holi-day!
Consider inviting anyone at the pool party or bar-b-q to share memories of a family member who has died: for example: “Tell me about someone you miss on this Memorial Day.” This opens the door to stories of times before our own, and nourishes everyone with memories and family intimacy. An anonymous writer said it best:
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”
Here are simple, open-ended suggestions indicating your interest in others’ memories. Watch for the sparkle of joy as the memory is shared, for the healing tears that have been held so long, perhaps for a smile just saying the person’s name aloud…
- Talk about family tradition recalling the lost from earlier times
- Share memories about your loved ones who served in wars
- What memories do you have of those in your extended family who sacrificed their lives in service to our country?
- How did the war affect you and your family’s daily life (opportunities and choices), your hopes for the future?
“Wishing you a “holi” Memorial Day, one filled with the riches of memories and community as you remember your loved ones.”
– Rachael Freed
Rachael Freed, LICSW, is a senior fellow, Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, University of Minnesota, and is the author of Your Legacy Matters and Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies: firstname.lastname@example.org, and www.life-legacies.com.