Setting Down the Backpack

My sister and I recently finished a long-term family project: we published my mother's memoir, the compilation of family stories our mother wrote for the five of "us kids" in the early days of her retirement.

We gave it a new name, CRADLE OF THE DEEP: MEMOIR OF A FAMILY COTTAGE. We took advantage of technology available today to publish it. And now we can be sure that our brothers' grandchildren can know their great-grandmother, just a little.

It's been a joy to spend time with my mother again, to hear her voice in my head. I write quite a bit about my mother, mostly about times that weren't so happy for either of us. I have had to work to be sure that's that impaired woman isn't the mother I think of all the time--because that wouldn't be fair. That's not who she was for most of her life.

Family business can sometimes like feel like a burden. Settling estates, meetings with lawyers, transferring assets or accepting the lack thereof. Many of those tasks don't have a definite end. An estate may be officially "settled," but YOU still have a billion boxes in the basement.

"Doing something with Mom's memoir" was a responsibility, but never a burden. It wasn't that heavy. Publishing it wasn't outside the realm of my own experience, or my sister's--not that we didn't have a learning curve, of course. Still, it wasn't as if we we were taking up brain surgery.

Finally making available this memoir feels like setting down a backpack. This book, too, is a project without a fixed ending date. People who never knew my mother are buying copies. And my relationship with her won't end--I will continue to write about her, eventually collecting my own essays someday, somehow.

But for now: Ahhh.