One of the last things my mother gave me before she passed on was a looseleaf notebook bulging full of clippings, her handwritten notes about people and things she loved, and pages of “sayings” that she had gleaned from her friends and her reading. I treasure that notebook for its simplicity, its memories and love; whenever I open it, I can feel the love of Mom as I wander through its pages of wisdom.
One year long ago I gave my Dad a scrapbook full of clippings of cartoons and farming humor that I knew would make him laugh. I spent many afternoons after school in our attic storeroom going through old farm magazines looking for those items, cutting them out and pasting them into a colorful scrapbook. Dad treasured that scrapbook, often taking it out whenever he needed a laugh to brighten his day. Several years after Dad had passed on, when I was visiting my Mom, she returned that scrapbook to me, tattered and torn in places, with Dad’s smudged fingerprints on some of the pages. It remains today as one of the only mementos I have of my Dad. … a sign of love given that returns with love to the giver.
When our children were in their teens, one Christmas we received a bulky package in the mail addressed to them. Mom had put together for each of our children their own personal scrapbook filled with pictures of their childhood that I had taken as they were growing up and sent to her. She had lovingly pasted the pictures into the scrapbook, plus pictures clipped from magazines of things children like, and had written little love notes to them in the margins. Each of our children had their own scrapbook of memories. These scrapbooks and notebooks from my Mom were her way of showing her love, especially since we lived so far from each other, exactly half way around the world. And it was her way of assuring us of her love each time we paged through those works of love.
Why am I talking about notebooks and scrapbooks? Lately my reflections have been all about love. Several reasons: first, Jun and I will celebrate our 50 years of love together, our Golden Wedding Anniversary this year in December; second, my reflections on the liturgical readings have focused on God’s love for me; and, third, I have been reviewing my list of God’s manifestations of love to me throughout the years.
I am not as diligent in keeping memories in scrapbooks, picture albums or notebooks as my Mom. In fact it has only been recently that I have begun to realize the importance of leaving one’s legacy of love for others to treasure. Memories in the mind are fleeting, but memories on paper (hard copies not virtual copies) are concrete signs of love that remain even in one’s absence. So I guess that means for me to be more persevering in creating concrete ways to show my love for my family, friends, and others. This then will be my way of celebrating this year of love – creating and preserving memories that can be treasured for many years to come.