My mom died in 2003. She had been sick for a number of years, but I still believed we had many more years ahead of us. I was not prepared for her passing. My kids were still quite young and I was concerned that they would not remember her if I didn't keep her stories alive. Problem was that Mom hadn't gotten around to writing these stories and I hadn't done a very good job of listening all those years when she told them. I wanted my children's children to know this woman and understand the influences that she had had on their generation. How would this be possible with my scant recollection and little documented proof of her efforts? Mom might be gone, but she still had a significant lesson to teach!
First and foremost, she taught me to respect my elders and politely listen to their stories. They really are quite fascinating...even if I've already heard them once or twice before. My kids will tell you that I've already started repeating some of my own stories. Guess what? We keep telling them because they're important!
I also learned that it doesn't take a whole lot of effort to record these stories for future reference. For too many years I looked at the mountain in front of me and was afraid to take the first step. I have no idea when my number will be up. I doubt that I will have climbed the mountain and ascended to the side of blissful knowledge that things are in a state of perfection. Hardly! However, I can hold my head high and say that I started the journey and have loved every meandering side trip that I've taken.
The most amazing lesson that she taught me, and gift that I will carry with me throughout my life is the knowledge that she is still here watching over me. A few months after I started the journey of trying to document my mother's life story, I received a package from a distant cousin. She had come across a spiral-bound notebook in my mother's handwriting. The sticker on the cover indicated that at one time it had cost thirty-seven cents. The pages within this notebook contained the priceless history of my mother, written in her own hand more than thirty years earlier.
Many years ago, Spencer W. Kimball said "What could you do better for your children and your children's children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved? Get a notebook... a journal that will last through all time and maybe the angels may quote from it for Eternity."
As a little girl, mom tried to teach me that the bigger gift isn't always the better gift. She taught me that some of the best gifts don't come from the store. All these years later, and she's still teaching me important lessons. Sometimes a .37 cent notebook can be the gift of a lifetime!