Marking Special Days in the Lives of Parents who have Died

November 15th was always a special day in our house as it was my parent’s wedding anniversary. They got married in 1948 and lived to see their 60th anniversary. They were never into mad celebrations and parties but the anniversary was a very significant day in the family calendar and they exchanged gifts, often went out to lunch, talked about their wedding day and we kids gave them presents from when we were tiny.

So November 15 is a date that is etched in my genes, memory and heart and I feel it is important to prepare for such days, as they  inevitably bring a flood of memories which could be sad or which with a bit of pre-planning can be harnessed and celebrated.

Mother and Dad walking towards Marriage!
Mother and Dad walking towards Marriage!

I had a little brainstorming session about possibilities while out for a walk in the lovely Anne Valley here in Co. Waterford early this morning and here’s the menu that emerged to celebrate what would be their 65th anniversary.

1. Pay a visit to both the Catholic and Church of Ireland Cathedrals in Waterford City, which were designed by renowned architect John Roberts ( 1712-1796). My parents got married in the Catholic Cathedral but Mother remained very much a member of the Church of Ireland all her life.

2. Have a coffee in the Majestic Hotel in Tramore where they held their small wedding reception.

3. Plant Spring bulbs in the much-loved blue pot which they bought in the gorgeous Kiltrea Pottery Shop near Enniscorthy in Co. Wexford many years ago.

4. Google November 15th, 1948 and find out what was going on around the world that day.

5. Go ahead and sign up for Tango Dance classes after all these years! Father would be all for it as he was a whizz on the dance floor and Mother would laugh and say: Enjoy yourself and forget that you had a mother with two left feet!’ 

So, how do you celebrate special days in the lives of  loved ones who have died?

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

18 thoughts on “Marking Special Days in the Lives of Parents who have Died”

    1. Hi Lori, thanks very much for writing. I reckon the photo was taken around 1944 and while it was a work uniform, I must say that the coat was ‘personal’ and Mother maintained her passion for coats all her life!

  1. What a beautiful thoughtful post Jean, and the photograph is wonderful, what a stylish couple.You look so much like a combination of your parents. Hope you have a lovely day on Friday.

    1. Katherine, great to hear from you. I laughed out loud at your comment about me being so much a combination of the pair of them. Whatever about looks, they certainly passed on their personality traits ~ and they were chalk and cheese! And, yes, I do intend to ‘have a lovely day on Friday.’ Thanks for your perfect wording, as always!

  2. Hmm… I think we will be celebrating my dad more in the future. As you know, it’s still too fresh for us but I imagine that once we’ve hit all the “firsts” it will be easier (we already had Father’s Day and his birthday). This Christmas will be particularly difficult as Dad always made a special Christmas dinner the Saturday before Christmas for his “Girls” and our families. He was too ill to do it last Christmas but now that he’s gone, this one will be particularly difficult….

    I love your idea, Jean.

    1. Dale, thanks for writing and I can empathise with where you are in relation to your father’s passing. I remember all too well the first Christmas after Father died and wishing that Christmas would just ‘go away’ because it had so many associations with both my parents who were then gone ~ Father in the September and Mother 16 months before him.
      The best bit of advice that I got that year was to do something ‘new’ which I didn’t associate with them while also honouring family traditions. The ‘new’ thing I chose was to go for a swim early on Christmas morning. It was very frosty but I warmed up my gear in the drier before I left and brought a flask of coffee. The light was beautiful and somehow the whole experience was very cleansing in all sorts of ways. I have been for that Christmas morning swim ever since and it continues to be magical.
      More than anything, what I’ve come to realise is that the memories never die and, so long as they are happy, they are most sustaining in a healthy way. It’s not about living in the past, but about recognising how much our lives have been influenced by our parents in what can be even the tiniest ways. The latter seem to be the most significant in terms of memories and a sense of ongoing ‘presence,’ for want of a better word.

      1. Hey there Jean. Indeed, new rituals must be created! We have loads of memories and can go back to them whenever we want or need. This year we are going camping in Florida for Christmas with one of my sisters and her family – it won’t become a yearly thing but we should have a grand time! I’ll not try to swim in our neck of the woods, that’s for sure!!! I’m sure we’ll create something special, the sisters and I that we will “ritualise”! Thanks for your kind words – again!

  3. Thanks for the follow! Just had a lovely wander around your blog. The photo of your parents is wonderful, there weren’t a lot of fancy things around in 1948 but, as ‘lorihoose’ comments, they are very stylish!

    1. My pleasure, Susan, and thanks for commenting here. I love the word’ stylish’ ~ though I would have to say it’s not something that either of them passed on to me – though they tried hard!

  4. Those are all wonderful ways to celebrate your parents, especially visiting the church and the tango dancing! I’m sure they’d be dancing along with you.

    1. Hi Sheila, thanks for writing. Much appreciated. I have to smile about the dancing ~ Father would certainly be out there twirling around but Mother was in my dancing league and that’s not exactly premier division ~ to put it mildly. BUT, who knows, maybe I’ll manage not to get expelled from Tango classes (for putting others off) as has happened twice in my life so far!!!I I wonder is that a record for beginners classes??

      1. I’m sure there are worse beginners out there. 🙂 I’m not very coordinated either but it’s still fun to do. Luckily, with some dances it doesn’t matter much. I guess coordination helps with the tango though. Let us know how it goes!

        1. Sheila, I’d say I’m pretty much down at the lowest level of beginner but my heart is in it. I’ve got as far as looking at Tango steps on YouTube starting with ABSOLUTE beginner stage and I’m getting more and more inclined towards giving it a go. Will keep you posted!

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