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A Touchstone to Connect Me to My Mother


As a mom to three kids, I do a lot of going in and out of my house. Each time I go to meet a bus, or get into my mom-mobile, I revisit a piece of my childhood and one of my most treasured possessions–my quartz rock, my family touchstone.

The rock sits among shrubs from our home’s previous owners and some flowers and perennials I’ve planted. About a foot long, the rock blends in with its surroundings. It also stands out as something unique. Just like it did when it was in my mother’s garden. First in the house we lived in until I was nine and then at the house my parents remain in today.

As a young girl, I loved sitting outside and daydreaming among the flowers my mother carefully tended. I could spend a whole day spinning stories about the rock. One day it could be a rare diamond that needed to be recovered in order to save a beautiful princess. Another day it could be a magic crystal that held the secrets of the world.

When I got a bit older, I could appreciate the rock for its own natural beauty. The way it sparkled when the sprinkler would hit it, or how it would catch the sunlight and throw off a rainbow.

I was never really clear how my mom came into possession of the unusual stone. As a child I loved to think of all the mysterious ways it could have come to reside in our little suburban home. Years later, I learned my mother’s uncle found it on his travels and gave it to my grandmother, who then gave it to mom.

I can still picture my mom weeding and planting her little rock garden in the front of our first house. Neighbors would stop by and chat with her, telling her the latest news or gossip. Many people commented on the unusual quartz.

She was so young and beautiful. I loved to talk to her whenever she was gardening. My mom was always on the run with many obligations, PTA president, ambulance corps volunteer, church obligations, or helping a friend. I had a lot of competition for her time. I loved that for the time she was in her garden, she could be mine. I would sing to her or just chat about my day.

When we moved, the rock went with us. I would see it in the new garden and take comfort that at least something was the same.

I wonder what my children will use as their touchstone to me as they grow older. Will my rock have some significance to them? Or will they remember me obsessively going over the rose bushes and getting mad at any aphids nervy enough to eat my flowers?

Will the sight of a book I read to them return them to a happy time? Will they remember the silly voices I used to make the book’s characters come alive? Or the songs I sang to them when I rocked them to sleep?

Will the sound of fingers on a keyboard remind them of me sitting in my office working on my blog? Will they remember sitting on my bed, watching TV, arguing with each other until I yelled, “For the love of all that is holy, knock it off.”

What will comfort my children when I no longer can?

My Aunt Fran, my mother’s sister, died almost a year ago. The thought of her passing has me feeling one step closer to the day my mom will no longer be there to watch my kids, or share the latest gossip over a cup of coffee.

A few weeks ago, my old roommate lost her battle with cancer. Her death made me want to cling to my own children a bit tighter and beg God to not take me until they’re all collecting Social Security.

As much as I hate to think about it, life is uncertain. We don’t know what will happen one day to the next. For today I’m grateful for my rock and the sweet memories of my mother that it holds for me, and I will be mindful to make sure I’m creating a family touchstone that will bring my own children comfort when I no longer can.

Read more from Kathy Radigan on her blog, My Dishwasher’s Possessed

Kathy Radigan

Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog, My dishwasher's possessed! and has had her writing featured on What to Expect, BlogHer, Mamapedia, The Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop and other publications. She is a contributing author in Sunshine After the Storm: a survival guide for the grieving mother and The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain and Power of Female Friendship. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

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Susan Bonifant

Thursday 10th of July 2014

One of my favorite things is hearing our kids talk about something they loved about growing up with us that we don't even notice. For one daughter, it's a recipe that comforted her, for another it's a fragrance I wore. There will be something, even if you don't know what it is. I really appreciated this, and what it made me think about.

Kathy Radigan

Thursday 10th of July 2014

It really is true, and you are right, you never do know what thing will mean the most to you after someone is gone. My aunt was dying last year and one day when I was over her house she noticed I was hot. She had me go in her drawer and get a lace fan that I could use. Now every time I see my fan I think of her. :) xo

Susan@ EducatingToday

Thursday 10th of July 2014

I love this article. My mother passed away last September at 100 years old and your writing helped me remember the special touch stones she put in my life...making donuts together from her own special recipe, going on family picnics even if they were only in our back yard, helping her plant the front flower bed with lush, full petunias after having a fierce blizzardy winter. Thank you for rekindling my special memories.

Kathy Radigan

Thursday 10th of July 2014

What a beautiful compliment Susan. I'm so sorry for your loss but how wonderful to have your mom for 100 years Sending love!

Carol Cassara

Thursday 10th of July 2014

These kinds of thoughts come more often at this age and I could relate to every word your wrote. Lovely.

Kathy Radigan

Thursday 10th of July 2014

You are so right Carol! Thanks! xo

Joan Stommen

Thursday 10th of July 2014

This is so sweet, Kathy. How wonderful you still have your parents....and this amazing rock that is so a part of you and your childhood. Your kids know how special it is to you....hopefully they won't fight over it when you're gone! They will absolutely remember your wonderful way with words! Great essay ♥

Kathy Radigan

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Thank you so much Joan. It is wonderful that I have my parents and I have to really remember to always be grateful for that fact. As much as they both can drive me crazy, I know that I will be devastated when they are no longer here. Thanks again! xo

Marcia @Menopausal Mother

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Beautiful post, Kathy. Made me teary eyed. And now I want to go give my mom a big hug.

Kathy Radigan

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Marcia thanks so much! I must remember to give my mom a hug too! xo

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