Several years back, my mom embarked upon one of her great little projects. She thrived on having a project at any given time. Sometimes she complained about her projects, but I could see those projects filled her days with an extra purpose and she enjoyed them even though, like any project, they wore her down at times. I call it a "great little project" because that's exactly what it was. It was little in comparison to some projects in that it was small scale and contained within the confines of a small-ish room in the house, but it was great because to her it was a worthy endeavor in that it represented the sum total of her passion for family, past and present, and every accomplishment that her family members had ever completed. This picture is an image of one of the library walls.
"The library" contains, as the image shows, family photographs on every single surface. The pictures extend from ceiling to floor, and every single person in our family, immediate and extended, is represented in some form or fashion, either with just a picture for their status as a "member in the family," or an extended display if that person has accomplished what my mom considered to be an impressive achievement. My mom's brother who played pro football is recognized for his years in the NFL. She even has a small display of projects my sister and I completed as children and through our teenage years! I had no idea she had even kept that stuff, but it confirms the love and devotion she had to her kids and those tokens of our accomplishments even as small children were a testament to that love. The "walls of fame" extend into the adjacent hallway where the grandchildren have sections commemorating their graduation from college and their earned degrees, their weddings, mission work, and service. That her grandchildren had college degrees was a very impressive accomplishment to a woman who only completed school through the 8th grade, when she was forced to quit and begin taking care of herself on her own. She was so very proud of those college degrees, and attended every single commencement. There are pictures of family reunions, ancestors four generations back, photographs of my dad and his years in the navy, pictures of my siblings and me when we were little, growing up, then our children and their children...a museum of sorts to our family, from its beginning to the time when my mom passed away and everything in between. She even had some pictures of her father, trying to bring out his best side even though he was not a good man. She simply could not leave out her father. My mom truly tried to see good in everyone. The library has books for the children, books for the adults, mood lighting for a quiet moment, and a compact disc player if you feel inclined to music during your library experience. The library sits as a trophy, so to speak, my mom's reward for her long and self-less years she gave to her family. The library also sits unfinished according to my mom's own words, because it was an ongoing project until her death.
One day in the not too distant past, I was with mama in the library. I was very impressed with the work she had done, but I had one apprehension and I told her so. "Mama, one day when you are gone, if I outlive you, I am gonna have to come in this room and take this library apart piece by piece, memory by memory, and be heartbroken because you will not be here." Didn't seem to faze my mom. She continued right on with her little project and was very proud of "the library" indeed. Well, the day I have dreaded is upon me. As we have recently moved my dad into assisted living, I am preparing to host an estate sale, and have been at the house quite often lately sorting through items and pricing them to sell. Every time I go into the library, I refuse to stay more than just a few minutes because my heart feels as though it will explode. The time my mother spent in there trying to get it just right hurts me knowing it cannot remain. There are just a handful of things in the library that will go into the estate sale so, for the most part, the library will be roped off the day of the sale with a "do not enter" sign across the door. Do not go into our family's most intimate memory room. Do not cross the line if you are not family or close friend because you do not belong here. This room is about family alone and, even though no one else would want any of these memories that adorn the walls from top to bottom, they are OUR memories and this was my mother's little project of love. It is a beautiful space and ethereal so to speak because it is the work of my mom's gentle hands. It is my family's quiet and cozy spot, the space where you can feel my mom's presence the most.
In the next month or so, we will be readying the house to sell and it will be my responsibility to spend what I'm sure will be countless hours in the library to begin dismantling and breaking down all the pictures. I don't know exactly what I will do with some of those pictures, especially the ones of ancestors I haven't met and can't even tell you their names. But I will put them into boxes, labeled ever so carefully to disperse among the siblings and hide away for a while to re-visit again one day. And on some day in the future I will open my treasure box of memories and remember the library. And I'll remember my sweet mama, who loved us all beyond measure.
Posted by CC
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