Passing Love Forward
"A story is a living thing; it moves and shifts."
- Pat Conroy -
While looking through the perfume bottles I inherited from my mother, the old stories about our relationship suddenly changed, as if the many shapes, colors, and translucencies of the glass had become filter and magnifier, tempering sixty some years into what truly mattered. My sister and I learned to cook, clean, and sew because Mom was busy teaching, being a wife, and raising us. She shared and passed on to me her love of books. From watching her carry a novel, a glass of iced tea, a bag of BBQ potato chips and an invisible Do Not Disturb sign to her lounge chair under the pine trees, I learned making space for alone time is essential, even though others may think it’s selfish. I remember her blooming when she went back to school for her Masters, and her example made it possible for me to nurture the joy and freedom that comes from learning new things.
From the years of being her daughter I now know that love is passed forward through our hearts and our smiles because sometimes words and actions fail us. And that in good times and difficult times, beauty can lift a heavy heart and humor can light up a day.
A few years after Alzheimer’s had started dulling her brain, Mom bundled up in gloves, a big coat and fake fur hat for a walk with us in Boulder. Instead of walking carefully and slowly as she often did then, she started dancing across the assisted living parking lot and down the sidewalk toward the lake filled with Canadian geese. Laughter filled us and kept us warm as we blew out frosty air, marveling at the geese as they took off in the twilight.
Tonight I see her perfume bottles as glass amphoras, that like in ancient Greek times carry something precious. They hold the essence of the care and love she gathered within herself, despite her own troubles, in order to raise me from a child to a woman able to grow and transform within the winds of grief, loss, and silence while simultaneously being entranced by the way a tree, cloud, or dandelion dances in that same wind.
Such is the power of love, of treasures that bring us memories of that love, of passing that love forward.