The journey from your parents’ first signs of decline to the day their house is finally emptied may be long and difficult, filled with more stress and sorrow than you deserve. Now that the casseroles are finished, the cards are read, and the relatives have returned home, what can you do to keep their memory alive?
Here are several ways you and your family can honor your parents and enjoy them forever.
- Plant a tree in their memory. One family planted a silver maple tree – mom’s favorite – at the assisted living center where she lived. It’s just a few blocks from her grave and remains a living memory of her.
- Distribute cuttings from a favorite plant.
- Share favorite recipes. Create a small recipe book of mom and dad’s favorite recipes and distribute to the relatives.
- Keep the fishing trip alive. Harold took his two sons on a fishing trip to remote Ontario every spring. The spring after his death, those sons planned a fishing trip with their own sons and daughters. It’s now an annual tradition.
- Create a memory book. Remember all those boxes of photos you found when you cleared your parents’ home? Scan them on to a computer and create a memory book to share with the family. Or, take those old home movies and transfer them to DVDs and distribute to the family.
- Give a lifelong gift. Many families contribute to charities and causes in memory of their parents. You don’t have to be extremely wealthy and have a building named after you to make a difference. One family pays for an annual scholarship that allows one underprivileged child to go to YMCA camp every summer — in the name of their parents. Another family pays for the Vacation Bible School supplies at their church each year, since mom always loved to teach children.
- Make a family DVD. Local video companies can document family members sharing their memories of parents.
- Recreate your parents’ presence. This looks different for every family. Did Dad always smell of Old Spice aftershave lotion? Was there always Glenn Miller music playing at mom’s house when the family arrived? Create tangible reminders that can brighten a sad day or a family celebration for years to come.
© 2010 Julie Hall