Menopause

Losing Mom: First Christmas Gone

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My mom died in March, and so this is my first Christmas without her.

Every year, when December came around, I’ve wondered: What will it be like the first Christmas when I unpack Mom’s things, and she is gone? Our Christmas treasures include decorations she created over forty years in a variety of mediums.

So this is it. This is the year.

Above, you see Mary and the Baby, done in spools. Below, a Santa ornament of paper mache.

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Mom made this  angel from a tissue tube. The angel slips over a tree branch.

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Mom had the patience and skill to fold Moravian Stars.

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This angel is watercolor on brown paper.

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This felt angel on velveteen is one of six Christmas banners Mom made for our Lutheran church in Towson, Maryland. She’d visited the Vatican exhibit at the New York World’s Fair in 1964 and admired the banners there. Mom’s banners graced our church before banners even caught on as liturgical art in the U.S. She was cutting edge in the banner world!

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Mom and the ladies at church turned eggs into ornaments. They sold enough of these, at 75 cents each, to put a kitchen in our church.

Mom’s art projects were a hit with the Sunday school kids. Here’s a three-dimensional angel ornament she made with them. I recognize her style, so I imagine she painted this one as a sample. The paint has faded over the years.

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Toward the end of her life, Mom painted with acrylics. This is the Holy Spirit watching over Mary and the Baby. Mom liked to envision the Holy Spirit as a colorful bird, capable of influencing folks quite convincingly.

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My mother didn’t like a lot of mushy gush. She avoided sentimentality in words and on greeting cards. But since I had warning the cancer would soon overtake her, I was determined to say my piece, my happy piece before she died. So these were some of my last words to Mom: “Your creativity has inspired me since I was a little girl and made me the person I am.”

This is what I know about the death of a parent, especially written for those of you yet to experience this sad time:

 You never lose the person’s legacy to you. You never lose their spirit.

Your mom or dad won’t go away. Not all the way away.

 

 

53 thoughts on “Losing Mom: First Christmas Gone”

  1. Thank you for sharing your Moms beautiful artwork. I lost my mom this past year too and I carry her in my heart now. She will never be forgotten. You are lucky to have so many physical reminders in her beautiful creations. blessings to you and your family at Christmas.

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    1. My sympathies on the loss of your mom. There’s nothing like a mother, that is for sure. I have friends who lost their mothers very young, so I know you feel grateful like I do to have your mom for so long. That has helped me a lot.

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  2. Lovely post…very touching and meaningful. I lost many parents many years ago and I particularly miss them at Christmas and find comfort in knowing that their legacy lives on in my approach to life and in that of my children.

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  3. Your Mom was so creative. Lots of good creations to remember your Mom by. But even if you did not have tangible things to remember her by, you will always remember her in your heart and memories.

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  4. What lovely memories and mementos you have of your mother. She was such a talented, creative person. You are right about our never losing our parents’ legacies to us, or their spirits. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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    1. You are welcome. I’m so pleased they never go away. I really would not have known that until I lost my parents. I knew it with grandparents, but I think somehow I worried it would be different with parents!

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  5. Oh, Barbara, I don’t know how I missed the fact that your Mom passed away. I know how close you and she (as well as Kath, et al) were…so glad for your wonderful memories…

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  6. Barbara, this brought tears to my eyes. I get it so very well as I miss my father every day. This is a lovely tribute to your mom. I love all of her art work and feel so lucky to have a few of her cat peices.
    She lives on in you…and you too are so creative! Merry Christmas!

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  7. I love that ‘ not all the way away” and enjoyed seeing your Mom’s art work. Putting up the tree is always a trip down memory lane for me. My husband is a guitarist and a few years before my mother passed, she proudly announced she had found an angel playing a guitar ornament for Larry – it was a lute. Every year that brings a smile to my face. It will get easier.
    Merry Christmas.

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  8. Very touching tribute to your Mom! Her creativity lives on in her art and her children. My Mom passed before internet really caught on, but sometimes I find myself wanting to shoot her an email to share something special.

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  9. I have so enjoyed getting to know you more through your blog. Who knew you were such a pistol? I wish I could have known your mom, too, but I love the bits I see of her in you. ❤

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  10. “You never lose the person’s legacy to you. You never lose their spirit. Your mom or dad won’t go away. Not all the way away.”

    This is soooo true, Barbara. So very true. Thanks for sharing your Mom’s spirit via her artwork. What a priceless Christmas collection you have.

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  11. We both lost our Mom’s this year. Those first holidays are always so painfully different. I am focusing making new memories with my little granddaughter, Aviva. She makes the holidays happy for me. Love your beautiful post and wonderful memories.

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    1. Thank you, Ellen. Aviva is precious. Maze is headed here today, and we’re going to have the unveiling of Grammy’s Railroad. It stays at my house but anyone can play with it! I’ve had the best time collecting pieces for it and hope to continue to expand it. Choo! Choo!

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  12. Lovely tribute to your wonderful mom, Barbara. It made me tear up missing my own mom (and dad). This time of year I guess it’s hard not to.

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  13. Made me teary Barbara. I remember wanting my mother to communicate with me after she died, just sitting and looking at Lake Minnetonka and wishing so hard. You’re so right. It’s not the things we collect, it’s the capacity to love our mothers instilled in us that we pass on as well.

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    1. I have looked for signs from both of my parents and sadly, as much as I have wonderful memories and sometimes feel their spirits within me, I’ve felt no direct communication. Maybe it’s not too late!

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  14. How beautiful! Your mother truly was talented and I love her work. The holidays always make me take a family trip down memory lane. It’s not always easy but somehow we get through it. Happy Holidays.

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  15. Beautiful tribute! She was so very talented. Those egg shell ornaments are absolutely gorgeous. It is amazing the money that can be raised when talented church ladies set their mind to it. Loved this post. Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

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  16. Beautiful post Barbara. Your love for your mom and her legacy really came thru your words. I often wonder what it will be like holidays without parents. In the meantime I’m determined to enjoy being with them (my 80+parents) as often as i can

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  17. I met your Mom twice with my cousin, Kathleen, who took care of Smoty. She was a lovely lady and I understand what you mean by the Spirit always remaining with you. I am 82 years old and my Mom transformed from her physical life to her spiritual life in 1985. She has never left me. You are
    fortunate to have had your Mom as long as you did.

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    1. Jean,

      Thank you for this lovely note. I love how you worded it: “My mom transformed from her physical life to her spiritual life.” I will keep that thought! My best to you and to your adorable and wonderful cousin!

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