Letter to the Editor:

It's important to gather memories for sharing later

Letter to the Editor:

My mother, Doris Engelson Plahn, died in December at the age of 98. Her obituary carried the usual information about her birth, life and death, but were fortunate that Mom had a fantastic memory and shared details from her youth that an obituary can’t convey.

She talked about growing up in Rock County, getting married in Beaver Creek, staying with her grandmother in Luverne and attending a movie at the Palace. She told me a little of what it was like living in the Depression, which was a scary time, and about her 18-year-old brother Lee dying, which was a very sad time.

Very little was spoken to our family about this traumatic time in her life. Later when a sister of mine interviewed Mom, our family found out what Lee’s death meant to Mom. This memory and other events of her childhood were recorded on paper in an interview style.

My same sister took our extended families’ memories and published a book about my parents that included my mother’s favorite recipes and my dad’s stories. Thank goodness for this. Some of the grandchildren did school projects and 4-H projects that included Mom’s thoughts on life and stories about my parents.

To keep the heritage of both of our parents alive, Mom started to give items to people with written notes on them, which made them all the more special. She put together photo albums. If she included names, dates, and where the picture was taken, that made it easier to trace the history behind the picture.

 Because newspapers were an important part of Mom’s day, she was up on current events and every day did her puzzle. She made notebooks of her favorite jokes from the funny papers, clipped recipes to try, made lists from the grocery ads and put together an obituary book with clippings of the people she knew.

As my mother got older, these activities began to slow down too. She never did stop making those grocery lists. Now that she’s no longer with us, these grocery lists with her handwriting on them are like a million dollars to me.

 We all look at and read the obituaries, but it is different when it is your loved one. How can you put a lifetime of living into a few short lines? If you are fortunate, you can.  How can you find a picture that conveys that person’s spirit? If you look hard enough, you will.

Jill Willers


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