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Unveiling Memories - Real Women Speak


Elaine w Mom 001

Have you ever had the experience when a memory decades old, unexpectedly bubbles up to the surface, giving you a new perspective on an event or relationship buried in your past? I recently had such a retrospective epiphany at a bridal shop where my daughter was trying on wedding gowns.  Dressed in satin and lace, she was a beautiful vision of the future, but the moment took me back 36 years when my mother was helping me plan my own wedding.

Ever since then, I've been recalling things about my mother--her skills, determination, convictions, and dedication to my father, my siblings, and me.  She died 15 years ago.  A lot has changed in my life since then.  One thing you can say about getting older:  it nurtures wisdom and we eventually become the people we were meant to be.  But regardless  of the years gone by, I miss my mother more now than ever and my admiration for who she was continues to grow.

Maybe it's because circumstances in my life are echoing hers.  She used to hold her hands in pain after knitting or kneading bread. I have those hands now. She used to bring out old piano music and tell me how her father loved to sing.  These days I get out those very books and think about how she taught me to treasure music, a gift I've passed on to my own children. What I once perceived as personal sacrifices in her 56 years of commitment to my father, I would reframe as devoted love and support, now that my own marriage is well into its third decade. Illness, misfortunes, and disappointments would try to stand in her way, but she would chart a new course, with that same knowing, gracious smile. I more fully understand and appreciate her resiliency now that life has also thrown me a few curves.

 I recall the foretelling words of a friend at my mother's memorial service.  He said no matter how old you are, when you lose your parent, it's a life changing loss that leaves a hole never again to be filled.  I'm old enough now to be a grandmother, but I still long for my mother's patience, thoughtful advice, and ever welcoming arms. Regardless of your age, there's something about the pride of a parent that gives you confidence and the promise of being more than you can imagine.

 I haven't kept up my mother's tradition of canning, quilting, or faithful church involvement. She would be pleased however, with my volunteer commitments, career accomplishments, and thriving little garden.  Even though my life has been blessed with more ease than hers, we become more similar with each advancing year.  She both anchors my past, and steadies my sail for the future.  I wish she would be here to see my daughter walk down the aisle to start a new life of her own.  My hunch is she would shed a few tears, both for the wonder of her grand-daughter, but also that I too, turned out to be a pretty good mother.

Welcome to Real Women Speak, where you’ll hear the voices of Oregon women who are struggling, soaring, muddling through and motivated to move forward.

Inspired by Decide.Create.Share, this blog chronicles stories from lighthearted happenings to questions of fortitude. From life-altering changes to simple anecdotes, our shared narratives serve to inspire, guide, and connect us.

Every woman has a voice. AARP Oregon seeks to amplify them.

About our guest blogger: My name is Elaine Friesen-Strang. I have played multiple roles in my personal and professional lives. While I consider how I intend to shape my sixth decade, I am involved with several organizations, including serving on the Executive Council for AARP Oregon. 

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