Recently I had a revival in my brain. Having spent so many years mourning my mother, my memories were clouded by a sicker, less vibrant memory of my mother. When I would think of mom, my foremost memories were of my sick mom, my mom riddled with pain, my frail mom, my mother dying before my eyes… painful and less flattering moments with my mom.
Fast forward to my brother sending me old family videos. I watched with amusement the video of my mother performing sign language to “Sunshine of my Shoulders.” She was so serious about her role and the fluidity of her sign language on camera. Her intensity in this video is palpable (the video was her final exam for the sign language class she took). While she considered rehearsals as her time to master her art of performance, my brothers and I painfully recall the countless hours of rehearsals and practice she did with John Denver’s ballad playing at deafening levels ON REPEAT. Over and over and over. To this day, in fact, I cringe when I hear that song. I am pretty sure my brothers do too.
My brother also sent me videos of birthday celebrations of years past. I watched intently, marveling at the woman I had grown up with. The strong, vibrant, thoughtful woman who was devoted to her family and her children. The woman who embraced a gag gift from her oldest child as if it was the crème de la crème of gifts (it was a polka audio tape – we are not polish). This woman had been pushed to the background my memories.
The memories came flooding back… my mother organizing the Parade of Nations (a huge, multi cultural stage celebration on Fort Leavenworth), my mother video taping and attending all of my brothers and my childhood events, my mother celebrating each and every birthday with pomp and circumstance- cake, gifts, food, my mother going to bat for her family time and time again, my mother teaching me how to sew, my mother staying by side hour after hour and day after day when I was in the hospital, my mother being there regardless on my youthful emotional outbursts, my mother holding my first born in her arms… so many beautiful moments forgotten in the cloud of mourning and then remembered because of old home videos.
It is difficult to recall all of the beautiful moments, but I am glad these old video camera moments have caused the revival of memories in my brain. Mom would want to be remembered like that.