Keeping My Mother Alive

I know it's not time to really figure this out yet, but I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how to make sure that my parents are a part of Veronica's life. Right now, when she hears "Grandma and Grandpa" she automatically thinks of Greg's parents. I wonder how long it will be before she understands that she has another set of grandparents too.

And how long after that it will be before she asks me where they are.

And what I'll say when she does.

For now, I maintain their presence with photos. In her room there are about half a dozen pictures of my mother. They're beautiful old black and whites that were taken in the 1960s when my mother was in her early twenties.


I love these photos. I never saw any of them until after my mother was gone and I wish so much I could ask her about them, how old she was, where she was. I know she did a bit of modeling and that her older sister was in fact, a professional model. All I really know is that there are tons of these. From all different eras, in all kinds of locations. There's one set in particular that are hanging in V's room.

I adore them.

Veronica and I stand in front of them every once in a while.


Each time I ask her: Who is that?

Without fail she answers: Mama.


That's my mama, I say.

Mama, she insists, smiling at me.


And without fail, my heart fills up.




  • Posted February 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    These are gorgeous photographs. I can see you in her. Just beautiful. My mother’s father died when she was twelve, so I never got to meet “my Grandpa W.” She shared photographs with me, and it really helped me. His sweetness radiated from them (I remember one picture of him in particular), and I found so much comfort in them. Photographs are a treasure – especially ones like these.

  • Lori
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful set of photos! It is also wonderful that you are conscious of bringing your parents to life in Vera’s mind. It is much like when I talk about my Baba(grandmother) who died when I was pregnant with my son. I have a photo album put together by an uncle of my Baba’s passport photo (1930 when she emigrated from Ukraine to Canada) and photos of the farm she settled on. My son is very interested in these, even more so than the great grandparents who are still alive. There is a mystery to them and to her and the photos can bring that person to life in their mind and make them a fantastical figure. My grandmother is a story – and my son can forever asks about her to add elements to her story. While sad she never got to meet my son, his relationship to her is quite alive. Your Vera will create the story of her grandparents via you and her imagination. What a wonderful thing.

  • Wendy
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Stunning photos. Perhaps Vera sees the resemblance, I know I do. You have so many beautiful stories of your parents to share with your daughter when she gets older. Not to mention a book of memories she will be able to treasure. Your words and these photos are marvelous gifts you will be able to share together!

  • Posted February 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photos of your mom. You definitely do look like her in these pictures. I hope that as Veronica grows older, you can figure out how to include both of your parents in her life.

  • Posted February 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    such beautiful photos of your mother. it is so wonderful that you keep her alive with veronica. my father’s mother passed away when he was little, and he spoke very little about her. as an adult, i asked him question, but, he was always reserved about it. i found one picture of her, and it was like looking at a picture of myself. seriously. well, sorry for going on and on. i just really think it is special that you will have her memory constant in veronica’s life.

  • Christine
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    These are so lovely. Interesting too. Nice to get this backdrop.

  • Bellie
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    My gosh your mother is just so beautiful- these pictures are great. Ive said it before- she oozes style! You really look very similar.
    Do you have any videos that you can show Veronica when she gets a bit older?

  • Ellie
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    My gosh, these photos are SO beautiful. I too can definitely see you in your mum, and it was indescribably sweet to read that Veronica says ‘Mama’ when she looks at them 🙂

  • Bellie
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Sorry, I mean videos of your mother of course 🙂

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you! Yes, I do have videos — theyre all on old VHS and I plan on converting them to DVD this spring. That will totally help keep her alive. Wish I could have seen videos of the grandparents I never met.

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I know! It kills me every time she says it. And she really insists that theyre me, which makes me happy.

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 8:59 am | Permalink


  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Oh wow. I felt like that too when I saw some of these photos — that it was like looking at myself. Is there anyone else you can ask about your grandmother? Any aunts or uncles?

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks, I hope so too. And thanks for saying I look like her. If I were only half as pretty, Id be happy.

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Thank you! I hope so! I love that she thinks theyre me.

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I love that your son is so interested in your grandmother — gives me hope for Veras interest in hers. It sounds like youve worked hard to keep her alive too.

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    I love that you found the photos comforting. I hope Vera feels the same way!

  • Windy
    Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Beautiful….and I want her dress! I must look for a pattern and make one now! Every mommy should take a batch of glamour shots to pass on. What a treasure!

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Ooh, I might commission you to make one for me too!

  • Posted February 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    What a classically gorgeous woman! What a pricless treasure these photos are. What an amazing mother and daughter you are. Lucky, blessed V.

  • Posted February 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Thank you!

  • Aisha
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Wow you look very much like your Mum. Those are gorgeous photographs!

  • Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you!

  • Stacy
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    This entry brought tears to my eyes. You are such a wonderful mother, Claire. There is more to this universe than our earthly souls can imagine. You can bet your mother and father are more a part of V’s life than we can ever know or conceive. I love that those pictures are in Veronica’s room.

  • Posted February 28, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Oh, youre so sweet Stacy. Thank you!

  • Lisa
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Claire, your mother is just beautiful! I agree with Stacy; when my daughter was tiny — changing table age — I would change her diaper and she would look over my left shoulder, always that shoulder, and just giggle sometimes. And I would say, is Nana talking to you? Somehow I had this feeling it was my grandmother. I’ll never know for sure, but I know what I believe!

  • Posted March 8, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, I love that. Thats so sweet.

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