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Gratitude and Grief



I'm grateful to Linda Stansberry for her piece on ways to honor our dead loved ones ("Five Ways to Honor the Departed," March 29). Linda has a knack for making personal stories relevant to the rest of us and, in this case, her thoughts are keeping me company on a quiet Easter morning as I approach the first anniversary of the day my mother Ann died.

I remember coming home from the hospital to her empty apartment. I was exhausted and bereft and faced days of sorting, packing, giving away and selling her stuff.

The best thing I did was ask her friends to help. While emptying her fridge and deciding which vases to sell, I got to hear their memories of Ann. And they helped me figure out ways to share her things meaningfully, such as dividing her large wine collection among her two bridge groups and her investment club.

My mother had some art objects, silver and china that I thought were valuable. But antique dealers didn't want them and they informed me it was illegal to sell the ivory Japanese miniature sculptures that Ann collected over decades. So my uncle's wife agreed to offer them up at the next family reunion. 

Like Linda, I saved some old tattered cookbooks but, mostly, I hear her advising me at the stove, add salt and pepper early, quarter the fennel before sautéing, etc.

Linda mentions how to handle any newly discovered family secrets. I scoured Ann's files, not so much for secrets but for mementos of her inner life. My two most cherished finds: a diary where, for 25 years, she listed the X-mas and birthday gifts she planned to buy for her growing list of family, colleagues and close friends; and a thin file of awards and letters, including two handmade Mother's Day cards from me.

Jim Hight, Eureka


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