At church today, we talked about how symbols, signs and stories remind us of people and places in our past. Sometimes the simplest image, smell or sound can bring back a flood of memories and stories…sometimes these are good recollections, and occasionally they haunt us by reminding us of something in the past.
For some odd reason, my mom had a great personal passion for fresh peppercorns. She would acquire these on her many trips around the world, bringing them home for her use. However, this generally meant they went in the freezer for years to come – of course, in my mind, defeating the point of freshness. Nonetheless, one of the distinctly fond and funny memories from last year, after my mom’s sudden death, was going through her house and finding all of her blessed peppercorns. They were so much a part of her story that as kids, we kept some red ones aside…and when it came to laying her to rest, sprinkled them on her casket, along with the fresh red roses that the group of mourners had left.
It was our personal touch, a way to remember her passion, her uniqueness, her quirkiness. I have a mason jar full of some of her black peppercorns in my kitchen today – not to be used, but to remember her story, to have her present in the kitchen, to honor her life in a small, unique way.
Likewise, I found out that week after her passing that she and I shared a love of butterflies. For me, butterflies were a part of my recovery story – they signified transformation. One of my dark, lonely Sundays in Greenfield in the height of my addiction, I remember looking out the window and seeing a butterfly near the window, on one of the Hosta plants. For me, it was a symbol – in that moment, I remember thinking “it’s all going to be ok. My Higher Power is looking out for me.”
So years later, to know that I shared this passion for butterflies with my mom gave me a connection I never had while she was alive. She had this amazing blouse/jacket in her collection of clothes, with embroidered butterflies. It was classy, bright and colorful – just the way I wanted to remember my mom. I actually have the jacket now, and wear it on special occasions like Mother’s Day, and her birthday… And, when I had my first tattoo designed, I had the tattoo artist use some of the images and shapes from her jacket as inspiration for the butterfly on my forearm, entertained with the Jerusalem cross that mom wore so proudly…and I now have in my possession as well to remember her by.
By no means do these items replace the person, or represent the fullness of their life story. But, they are gateways to their stories, reminders of their ongoing presence in our lives, as Angels watching over us.
So thank you for helping me celebrate the life legacy of Carol S. Wyman – her love of family, travel, people and nature. She was far from perfect…so I don’t mean to idolize her blindly. But, she will always be my mom…and I will always be her little boy.
I love you mom.