I Honor My Mom’s Memory in the Sweetest Little Ways (All Over Our Home)

published May 12, 2024
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Graphic collage with a framed photo of the author Charli Penn's mother and a photo of a vibrant red tree in her yard
Credit: Charli Penn

If you’ve lost a loved one, sometimes keeping their memory close can help you heal. Especially around the holidays or on dates when you’d often think of them most. There are so many different ways you can choose to honor them  in your life, even inside your home. 

My mother lost her battle with cancer when I was just 9 years old. I still miss her every day  — even more on Mother’s Day — but part of how I grieved her loss and moved on was by finding unique ways to keep her memory alive throughout my life.

In college I started collecting little items and trinkets that remind me of our happiest moments together. Years later, when my husband and I became first-time homeowners and settled into a cozy little corner house, I was very intentional about keeping her memory close in any way I could. I started to seek out little ways to remind us of her as we go about our life at home. 

Our house didn’t have much landscaping when we bought it, so we had to plant most of the trees and shrubs we have today. Our first year in the home, we decided to plant a memorial tree in honor of my mother in our front yard. We picked a Japanese maple because it would have a longer blooming season and year-round beauty and interest. We bought it young so it could grow and mature with us as we settled in, and we strategically planted it where as it grew taller over the years it could be seen from almost any window of our home.  

My mom’s tree has grown tremendously in the five years since we planted it. No matter the season, each and every time I sit by the window, on my favorite little corner of the couch, and take in its fiery red beauty, I smile. It feels as if my mother is watching over us and our home in the most beautiful way. We also planted a beautiful rare rhododendron bush in our yard  — it’s the state flower of West Virginia, where my mother was born and raised and it was also her favorite spring bloom.

I’ve found great comfort in including my mom’s memory inside our home. I’ve always imagined that if she were still alive today, we would share lengthy heartfelt conversations over warm coffee in my kitchen, so when it came time to decide where to display a framed photo of my mother (pregnant with me) that I most cherish, making it the centerpiece of the featured wall in our kitchen felt just right. Our kitchen is also the busiest room in our home, so I feel as if, in some small way, she’s not really missing anything. My elderly dad lives with us now, and when I see him stop and smile when he catches a glance at the photo. It instantly makes my day that much better.

My mom was an English professor and published author who absolutely loved books. We declutter a lot in my house — it’s my job — but one thing that’s never going anywhere is my mother’s favorite book collection that she left to me. I’ve been toting it around with me for over 30 years. I have her books on display in my office, and I enjoy reading and rereading them whenever I want to feel a little closer to her memory.

Thanks to these small additions, there isn’t a moment I spend at home when I don’t feel surrounded by her love in some way, and on days like Mother’s Day, when I miss her the most, I’m glad I took the time to keep her memory close, because that’s what brings me the most comfort and joy, and I’m so thankful for that.