Your parent is gone. You may or may not live in the same home that you did before he/she died. Does being in the same house make things easier or do you find yourself walking into a room and expecting to see your mom or dad there, alive and part of your life again? If you've moved to a new house, how do you keep the memories of your lost parent alive? Here is my perspective on this...
As I have mentioned in previous posts, my dad lives in the house I grew up in. The house my mom died in. The house my mom made a home for her family. My mom made sure that the house my brother and I grew up in was a home.
My parents were the first owners of that house. Together, they chose how each of the rooms would be decorated – paint, wallpaper, carpet, everything. Over the years, rooms were updated, the kitchen and living room were remodeled, and a greenhouse for my mom’s orchids was added. My mom’s loving touch went into everything, especially the gardens out back. Whenever I couldn’t find my mom in the house, I knew she would be in the garden pulling weeds or watering her plants.
After my mom died, I’d walk through different rooms of their house and just stop and listen. It’s like I was waiting to hear my mom’s voice again, to walk into a room and see her there. I’m not quite sure when I stopped doing that. I guess at some point I realized that my mom wasn’t there anymore and that she wasn’t coming back. A fact I don’t like, but have learned to slowly, very slowly, accept.
The House Feels Different Now
About a year after my mom died my parents' house began to feel different. I knew it was because my mom wasn't there anymore. But for my dad, I believe that feeling of change came more quickly. In the guest bathroom at my parents’ house there was a hand towel that said “A home without a dog is just a house.” One day, my dad was talking about how much he missed my mom and how lonely it was in the house. He said that it was no longer a home because my mom wasn’t there anymore. To him it was just a house.
To me, that house will always be my mom and dad's house. My dad has remarried, and nearly everything in that house has changed. These changes have completely shifted the feel of the house. It no longer feels like home to me, and sometimes I even feel out of place in my childhood home. My dad is making new memories with someone who isn't my mom and with a family that I barely know. It's fine. Life goes on.
My Mom's Spirit Lives On
I realize that no matter how much that house changes in appearance, my mom’s spirit is still there. I see her imprint on things that have not been changed. In the quiet of my parents' house, I close my eyes and I can see my mom sitting at the kitchen table working on the New York Times crossword puzzle, pen in one hand, a cup of tea in the other. I often go upstairs and sit in my old bedroom, looking at my mom’s wedding picture and other memories of her. It's the one place in my parents' house where memories of my mom remain.
Memories Live On of Our Family
No matter what, I will always have my memories of that house as my home and of the times we spent together as many different generations of family. Little reminders of those times remain, and it's those memories I hold onto as new ones are made.
Are Things Changing in Your Life - Hold Onto Your Memories
Things may be changing in your life in a way you don't want them to, and you may have no control over these changes. When this happens to me, I get a helpless feeling; how I wished I could snap my fingers and change everything back to the way it was when my mom was alive. But that isn't possible.
If you feel like everything is changing in your life – new home or same home with new family – find a way to hold on to your memories. Write down your favorite ones in a notebook or journal. Create a space where you can remember your parent the way you want to. Keep a special picture of your parent by your bed. I have a picture of my parents in my bedroom, along with pictures of my grandparents and mom in my office. There are other places in the house that hold memories of my mom. I realize that for me it may be different - I live in my own house and can decorate any way I want to. But no matter where you live, make a space for yourself for your memories.
Never forget – no one can take away your memories or your love for your parent. Even though my mom isn't physically here, she is alive in my heart and mind.