Posted by: Kathy | August 29, 2012

The Memory Keeper

On October 14, 2008, I made a promise to a dying woman. My mom and I were in the emergency department. It was her second visit to the hospital in less than a month. I think we both knew that this was the beginning of the end, but neither one of us acknowledged it. I asked my mom if she was scared. She said of course she was, although I believe she was beginning to accept the fact that she wouldn’t survive her battle against pancreatic cancer.

My mom told me that her biggest regret about dying was not being able to see her grandchildren grow up. It was then she asked me to promise her that I would always keep her memory alive for my children. I think she believed that her memory would fade with time and that they would forget her, especially Nikki who was only 2 years old at the time. I promised her that the kids would always know their grandmother. At that moment, I became her memory keeper.

I understand that memories fade with time, especially after someone dies and that person is not part of your daily life anymore. But I don’t want my mom and all that she did for our family to fade away and disappear, and there are times when I feel like this could happen. Everything has changed since my mom died, and sometimes I feel like I’m watching the sand castle of my mom’s life being washed away by the waves and there is nothing I can do to stop it. My mom made sure we did things as a family, spending quality time with her grandchildren. She was the person who made our birthdays and holidays special, putting her heart and soul into everything she did for her family. My mom was the glue that held our family together.

Through memories and pictures, I will continue to keep my mom’s memory alive. She was too special to let slip away.


I will never forget the last Christmas I spent with my mom.


My kids will always know about the last Easter they shared with their grandmother.


I know my husband will always remember the last birthday he and my mom celebrated together.


I made a special promise to my mom and I know how important it was to her that I keep this promise. The day my mom died, I became her memory keeper. I love you, Mom.



  1. Kathy,
    I am sorry for the loss of your mother. My mother died March 4, 2011, seven weeks shy of her 102nd birthday. She died peacefully and alone preparing to go to her noon meal. For 15 years, though, it “was one thing after another.” It was a long slow death. Pneumonia at 97. Cancer at 96. Strokes and numerous other non-life threatening issues.

    The silver lining. Because she lived so long my nephew was able to introduce his new daughter to his grandmother in 2005. They lived 1,000 miles from me and mom. He thought, like the rest of us, it would be the first and last time. But to his and our delight, he brought his daughter to visit for the next five years mom, creating happy memories for all of us.

    I am a photographer and family memory keeper. I took numerous photos of the two of them together. Even though my great-niece has memories of her greatgrandmother, to keep them alive I created a photo album of them together from tiny baby to five-year-old. She was enthralled when I gave it to her this spring at age six.

    You are doing a wonderful thing to keep your daughter’s memory of your mother alive.


  2. This is beautiful. It is so important to keep the memory alive so that the knowledge and love is passed down. 🙂

    • Thank you. I remember when my grandmother would tell me stories about our family. I so wish I had written them down at the time. Now it’s my turn to share the stories of our family, especially my mom, to make sure my kids know her deep love for her family. Take care.

      • I sometimes get out a scent that reminds me of my mom or grandmother, light a candle and just sit and think about the things they taught me. You’d be surprised what you remember when you let your mind wander back in time. 🙂

  3. I understand how you feel. Months before my mom passed away, she told a family member that she did not want to die yet because she wanted to see her grandson, my son, grow up. I have lived up to that all this time and it is in that memory that I know my mom will always be looking out for him from up there. A guardian angel, if you will….my son is so attached to my mom and I have the same fear as you so what I do is occasionally talk about her like, “remember when mama did this or mama said that..”. I’m glad when he does. Sometimes he even brings her up like pointing out to someone who looks like her. With this, I hope he keeps her memory til he grows up.

    P.S. Your mom is sooo pretty!

    • My son and my mom were very close. Her death affected him deeply and he doesn’t talk about her a lot. I know in his own way he remembers his grandmother and the times they shared together. He doesn’t want her memory to die either. I know both my son and daughter enjoy the stories I share about their grandmother. Take care.

  4. You are doing a beautiful job of keeping her memory alive. So many wonderful ones to cherish.

    • Thank you so much. I hope my children will always remember their grandmother’s love for them and how much she cherished spending time with them. Take care.

  5. Kathy, your beautiful writing brings me to tears, as I share so many of your sentiments. And with the anxiety I’m feeling with my daughter’s wedding exactly one month from today, I so wish I had my mom with me.

    • Thank you. I understand how much you wish your mom was here to help you with the upcoming wedding and to be there on your daughter’s wedding day. Your mom will be with you and your daughter in spirit. I’m not sure if I ever shared my favorite quote with you by Thomas Campbell – “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Take care.

      • Thank you, Kathy, for the quote. That ranks right up there with something my mom’s special companion of 28 years, who turns 98 in December repeats to me, “Nothing dies that is remembered.”

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