A lot of people came to my mom's wake, people I had not seen in some time. Among the guests were students she taught long ago. They told me stories of her teaching days.
"Was she strict?" I asked.
"No, she was easy going," I heard.
That was a little surprising, but then, with consideration, not so surprising that she would have a gentle touch. She used to fix me breakfast after I was out late, heated dinner when I first worked nights, wiped my brow when I was sick.
I heard stories from my cousins too, one my mom taught to sew with detail. Another, who is a photographer, recalled how beautiful he thought she was when he was little and how photogenic. His dad was a photographer too, trained by a Dutch master photographer in post war days, and thus there are happily tons of portraits and family photos from those years.
It was good to hear the stories and to be reminded of who she was before disease submerged her thoughts and personality into a nebulous skein. It reminded me of the her I knew before nursing homes, medications and tests to see if she was engaged in life.
Jumping back, before the difficult times was important because it is important to get back to the memories that matter and are to be carried as I wend onward.