Love the ones you’ve got, while you’ve got them

I like this quote from Canadian poet Lorna Crozier’s memoir, Small Beneath the Sky, because it captures the essence of the ties that bind a family — that hodgepodge of collective memory that only we, our parents and our siblings can access — as well as the very fragility of those ties.  One day, the people who helped colour the memories of your upbringing will no longer be present to share those memories with you — to laugh and cry with you over events gone by; to remind you of moments or details you had forgotten; to understand, implicitly, completely and without question, the myriad currents flowing beneath it all, holding it all together.

Near the end of her book, Crozier writes about the decline and death of her mother, Peggy, with whom she was close.  In the moments before Peggy enters surgery, she refers to her daughter, then fifty, as “still my little girl, my skinny little girl who I couldn’t get to eat.”  For Crozier, those words trigger an instant flash of memory — and a sudden sense of impending loss:

People would stop [Mom] on the street and ask why I was so big-eyed and thin.  What was she feeding me?  The truth was I’d eat almost nothing but bacon.  Outside the porch on a wooden chair she’d leave pieces for me to snatch as I flew by like some wild child, not wanting to come in from playing.  Who else could tell me that?  Who but my mother held those small pieces of my childhood?  Where would they go when she was gone?

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