As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my mother, Lee Ann, passed away about a week ago. I’d written about her before, but came across a weekly writing challenge called “Traces” in which we are challenged to write about leaving our mark on the world, and she’s the first person I thought of when regarding this challenge.
When reflecting upon my mother, of course there are fond memories, there are not so fond ones, too. My mother was not a saint… far from it in fact, but I loved her even more for all her misgivings. She was raised in California, dirt poor, in the 1950’s and 60’s. She had two older half brothers and one younger sister. She didn’t like to tell me stories about the things she did when she was young very often, but I know she was picked on, hated her own image, and made some rather poor choices in husbands early on.
When I tell other people about my mother, I don’t sugar coat a thing. She was honest, and so too am I. Her honesty could hurt sometimes, and maybe she wasn’t always transparent with everyone, but she was with me. When my sisters and I reminisce of her, we don’t talk about that trip we took or that time she was so nice… we tell stories about how people stared in horror as she yelled at us in a Mc Donald’s play place to get down or she’d “rip our arms off and beat us over the head with it”.
So why am I writing about my mother in a challenge about leaving my mark on the world? Well, I’m pretty certain that I’m (one of) her marks on the world. Sure, she made some awesome stuff that will still be around, now that she’s gone. She met lots of people, even took some of them in and cared for them when they were down. Those people will remember her and what she did, too. But I (and my siblings) are the result of her molding. Her mindset; brought to life. I am the product of her lifestyle, choices, personality… her everything. I am her mark on the world, and so too my children will be, after I’ve had more time to mess with their little minds and mold them into my little clones.
I am not my mother’s twin, but I carry a lot of her with me. We had the same hair, the same laugh, and the same pace and tone when speaking. People mistake me for her on the phone. Her views and mine were like night and day on some topics, and on ones we agreed on, we’d still debate the same side. She wasn’t the most understanding of what I thought, and nor I of her. She and I weren’t physically affectionate either. Honestly, I should have hugged her more. My mother loved the crap out of me though. I know she was proud of me, she said so often.
Now that she’s gone, her legacy is what she made. She made tons of objects, like dog agility equipment, painted rocks, polished rocks, paintings, blankets, and shadow boxes. However, it was the life she made herself, and those who gravitated towards it, that are her true legacy. I am who and what I am because of her, and I know she altered other lives outside our family, too. She was naturally nurturing, and people always just found her. Her legacy is her story, and now that she isn’t here to tell it, I suppose I should someday.
I hope someday I have impressed upon my children the importance of legacy; of family, and how they are my mark on the world. I’ve learned from my mother’s shortcomings and try not to have the same ones, but I’m sure the ones I do have will be remembered by my children. Someday, when they talk about legacy, I hope they think of me, I hope they know that THEY are MY mark on this world… and pass that on to their children. My story, my legacy, my mark on the world, is family.