Our reader Nick tells us about discovering new things about his beloved mother and shows there is so many layers to people we think we know well.
My mother kept a journal.
Well, not exactly. Perhaps I should explain.
Although born a Catholic, my mother remained strictly non-denominational throughout most of her adult life. It was only a decade ago that she found a faith she liked as well as a church and its people that she could enjoy being with. So it was then she returned to a more active spiritual life, and effectively dragged me along for the ride. None the less, I enjoyed my new Sunday morning activities, and could usually be found riding along with the younger parishioners. Still, half my Sunday was my limit. When she began taking classes during the week, I didn’t join her.
The other day, I was looking for some old files when I found a notebook. After a moment, I recognized the cover as one I’d given my mother for a class she was taking. Wondering if it was full or empty, I flipped open the cover and was immediately confronted by my mother’s handwriting.
The class had apparently been titled ‘A Course In Miracles’ and one of the requirements was a small journal like the one I was holding. In it one wrote down one’s wishes, hopes, and dreams; about the material and immaterial things that one would happen to want; or that one might truly need. In addition, to this ‘homework’ writing, Mom recorded quotations she found worthy, apt, or inspiring.
As I read, I found myself discovering new insight into a person I had believed I knew fairly well. My mother and I were close beyond the typical mother-son relationship, and counted each other as friends. Still, no one knows everything about someone else and I was intrigued to discover her unedited thoughts put to paper.
An amazing number of her wishes had referred to the success of other people. Mom had wished for my father to be satisfied and challenged by his job, for me to find success as a writer, for a friend to open her dream business and similar things. Several wishes had referred to the trappings of material success, both for herself and for other people. Finally, the last thing she wished for was enlightenment to be gifted to the entire world.
I closed the journal an hour or so later, feeling just a little bit closer to the mother I lost nearly three years ago, and sat there thinking for a while. I hadn’t made any great discoveries. There were no shocking revelations to my mother’s character. But there had been a few surprises. A few things that I hadn’t known. And to my surprise, a feeling of loss that still echoed… But perhaps it echoed just a little bit less that day.