I was going through family photos ahead of Mother’s Day and opened an envelope that I haven’t look in very often because it’s photos of my grandmother in her casket at her funeral. My grandmother on my mother’s side died exactly 2 months before I was born. I had never noticed that my grandmother’s funeral date and my mother’s day of death were just a single day apart in the month dedicated to mothers.
Behind the funeral photos were a set of tiny photos, just a bit larger than postage stamps. I don’t remember seeing these photos before. They were of my grandparents at the grave of my beloved uncle, Jim Carroll, who died just before his third birthday. He died from complications after an accidental drowning. I can only imagine the pain and sorrow his untimely death caused. My mother was born the following year, and she always said that she believed God gave her a sense of humor to lift the spirits of the grieving family, especially her mother.
In the photos, my grandparents are older, so I can assume this was taken in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Little Jim Carroll died in 1936 but the decades that had since passed had not lessened the love for their beloved child.
I think of Jim Carroll often, as I have what is a most precious heirloom: his shoes. Still caked with clay, the tiny shoes were handed down to my mother, who was disturbed by the sight of them. I told her to keep them for me. Now they sit on top of my family memorial display, next to his moving obituary.
If you are grappling with family loss this Mother’s Day, I hope you can find some peace and comfort.