Saying Goodbye to a Family Member and Building a Character

Last Sunday, our family had to say goodby to my wife's mother (my mother in law). She passed away suddenly and without any warning. Ellen had a severe heart attack and a stroke some years ago, was in the hospital for months first in a coma and then trying to recover from the effects. She seemed to be doing well lately and we were totally floored to get the news.

Like many son in law / mother in law relations, ours wasn't always great. I freely admit it was as much my fault as hers but over the years the relationship had improved and I can genuinely say that she will be missed by many. I was extremely touched to find that all the copies of my books we found at her house were all well read, marked by creases and other signs of use that a book which has been read and reread should contain.

However, this post isn't as much about our loss as it is about my discovery.

In my wife's process of going through the many papers and mementos left behind we quickly discovered that even though we may know someone well, we often forget little things about them that make them such a well rounded person. Ellen was a meticulous "keeper" of old newspaper articles, letters, photos, and other things which show what a unique character she was. 

It's the little things that make a person so memorable, both in our lives and in our books.