Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Some of Mom's little froggies.
I was just thinking about my mom today. Actually, I think about her everyday. I have several pictures of her on the bookshelf in my office. I really wish I could just pick up the phone and call her whenever I want, but I can't. Not anymore. She died six years ago.

However, I have lots of mementos around the house that remind me of her. There's something of hers in every room. She started sending me things, little by little, over a decade ago because she wanted to make sure I'd have them once she was gone.

When she died, my husband and I went to Hawaii to make all the arrangements: her memorial service, sale of her condo, scattering her ashes, and going through tons of photos. My mom was the most organized person I know and she was very diligent in making preparations for her death. She had already promised away almost all her belongings to friends and neighbors, and some to my sister and her children. But there was still a bunch of knick knacks and small household items that had to be done away with, so my husband and I packed as much of it in our suitcases as we could reasonably carry.

My mom was a knick knack person. So's my husband. Me? Not so much. The only little things I've saved over the years is the cute crafty stuff my kids made when they were little. But now I have mom's bric-a-brac strewn around the house because they remind me of her. She had a thing for little lizards and frogs. Well, little animals of any kind, actually, but the majority were frogs. Now I have them. And I look at them every day.

The project I'm currently working on deals with the loss of loved ones, and my heroine lost her mother to a devastating illness. Like most writers, I try to live inside my character's skin as I'm writing about them, so I'm reliving the loss of my own mother. Remembering my grief and sense of loss helps me understand my character better and draw her in a more realistic way. The story isn't only about her losing her mother, but the circumstances surrounding her mother's death affect her decisions and her behavior. That's why this is fresh in my mind today so I thought I'd write some of it out in my blog.

Do you have keepsakes to remind you of anyone special who's now gone from your life?


Peg Brantley said...

Karen, your post hit home in surprising ways. My mom will be gone four years on April 5th. I have something of hers in every room as well. And those things are precious. Heaven help the person who damages them. Most of what we have are afghans she crocheted.

On an incredibly rude BSP note, I just released my first novel in honor of her birthday, April 2nd.

Cynthia Woolf said...

Karen, what a lovely post. I too lost my mother just a few years ago. September 25th will be 4 years. I know because it's jut 2 days after my birthday.

I have many of her things out, around me. And now that I think about it, I have something of hers in every room as well.

It wasn't a conscious thing it just happened. I miss her every day and like you wish I could pick up the phone and call her. Wish I'd done it more often when she was alive, because no matter how often I talked to her, it wasn't enough.

Thanks for letting me remember.

Karen Duvall said...

That's wonderful, Peg. My 2nd published book I dedicated to my mom, it came out 2 months after her death.

Cynthia, thanks so much for sharing. My mother died 2 weeks before my birthday, so I know what that feels like. It's sad when they go, but at least we have their memories to keep them alive in our hearts.

Lisa Albert said...

It's an emotional rollercoaster when you're using life experiences like the loss of your Mom, but that's what we do as writers. :-) Your Mom sounds a lot like mine and they may be organizing Heaven together at this very moment! We used to call my Mom "Lana," which is "anal" backwards...LOL.

She was a giraffe person and I have a several of hers. I also have a few of my dads things.

I think you know my YA, Mercy Lily, has a lot of my emotional journey in it. It's premise is loss, quality of live, and Death With Dignity.

It's set in Oregon. I didn't realize that's where you live!

Keep in touch. (I don't see you on Hopefuls anymore ;-)


Marie Harte said...

What an insightful post. It's funny how things carry the emotional reminder of times past and loved ones lost. I'm often hit by smells, the ones that remind me of times with my parents as a kid, or vacations at the beach when we were all happy (and they were still married). Luckily I can still talk to my mom, so I really feel for you there. But the fact you can see those nick-knacks and smile is a gift all its own. Great post, Karen. :)

Karen Duvall said...

Hey, Lisa! Long time no "see." I love the image of our moms hanging out in heaven together. Haha! What a cute nickname for your mom. Well, I think my announcing my blog posts to the Hopefuls was annoying some people so I figured it was best for me to move on. I hope the Hopefuls are all doing well! :)

Karen Duvall said...

Thanks, Marie! I'm amazed what a strong trigger the sense of smell is. And you don't often know it until it happens. I think smell is underused in fiction, and I'm speaking for myself, as well. It's one of those senses I need to utilize more.

TheaH said...

I am a pack rat and after 50 some years, my relationship with my things has turned turbulent. It's that old tension between wanting things and having the space for them. My mom and dad have been asking us kids to name things we want. It is hard because you have to admit that they are going to go one day. I feel for you, Karen, and everyone else who has lost a loved one and then deals with the trappings of life.