My mom passed away almost two years ago; my dad almost a year ago. It’s been a rough couple of years for my family. My mom passed away from complications from COPD and emphysema. Her goal was to live long enough to be able to see Jake (my son) graduate high school. She didn’t make it. She was a year too late which broke my heart. I often wonder if my mom was afraid she would be forgotten once she passed away. Sometimes it feels like she left things behind on purpose. I am finding all these “treasures” (my brother and I call them Easter eggs) and I see them differently now that she is gone. Making note cards was one of her favorite things she was able to do when she was so sick.
My mom’s nickname was Cookie. Most people outside of real estate knew her as Cookie. After you hear it for so long, you really don’t think much of it. It sounds normal. Cookie was sick for many years before she passed away and one of the few things she could do was sit at the computer and design greeting cards. She kept track of everyone’s birthday at church, everyone’s anniversary, she would check with the church office and if someone was sick or down, she would send them a card. I wasn’t aware how much she was doing this until people came to her visitation and told me how much her cards meant to them. The church secretary even said that when Mom mailed in my parents’ tithe every month, she would include a card for her and always wrote something special and lovely. She said she looked forward to those cards.
Once she had mastered greeting cards she decided to get creative. I get a lot of my craftiness from my mom. She was always making something growing up. Anyway, she would call one of her friends and they would load her up in the car with all of her oxygen and breathing treatments and digital camera. This wasn’t an easy task. She was getting to be high maintenance and she didn’t care one bit! She would have her friend drive her to another friend’s house. She didn’t want to go visit this friend, she wanted to take a photo of the friend’s house. So she took a different friend each time to go to yet another friend’s house to take a photo of that friend’s house.
She took the photos and was making note cards for her friends that had photos of their houses on them. A very sweet, personal and thoughtful gift. And I know her friends loved having a gift my mom made that would last long after she had passed away. After that Christmas (which was to be her last Christmas) I received a thank you note from my parents (okay, really from my mom) for their gifts and for us fixing dinner. She was a stickler about sending thank you notes. This wasn’t just any thank you note. She had made this one. On the front was a photo of me when I was probably three years old, playing in the snow in our backyard. I remember when this photo was taken. It was one of my favorite days I can recall from my childhood. She had helped me build a snowman and I was still packing the snow on him, making him perfect.
I cried when I saw the note. I knew it would probably be her last Christmas with us. I had forgotten about that picture, the memory with it, the two of us building a snowman on a snow day. She wrote an eloquent and and lovely thank you note (of course she did), just grateful that we came and spent Christmas with her and Dad and how much they liked our gifts we gave them. Her note and card meant so much to me. I still have it on the fridge because I can’t make myself put it away. Makes me feel like maybe she just sent it, so it’s on the fridge where all the recent things go.
I love how this memory is now preserved, on a thank you note, on a note card that my Mom made for me. It’s the best gift ever to still have that. It makes me smile when I see it — all because she likes making note cards. It made me think that I would like to do something like this for Jake, so he will have those cards from me one day. He’s almost 20 years old, but I am hoping one day he will be a little more sentimental. I think doing things like this — making note cards with family photos is a wonderful way to keep memories alive whether or not the person who made it or is in the photo is still here with us. It’s so personal and meaningful.
Right after my mom passed away her friend Susan sent me a sweet note on one of the note cards my mom had made for her with a photo of her beautiful home on the front. She wrote on the inside, “If you look really close, you can see your mom’s reflection in the window.” And sure enough, there she was, in her beautiful winter cape with the camera up to her face. Still makes me smile thinking about it. Of course I saved that card as well. Makes me feel closer to her on days when I feel like she’s so far away.
To make your own note cards, all you really need is some white card stock which you can purchase almost anywhere. I upload my phone photos to my computer so I can use them as needed, but you can also scan the photos that way if the only photos you have are actual photographs. Some folks also have photos on CD. You also need envelopes that will fit the cards once they’re finished and folded. I sometimes use a paper cutter to make easier, more precise cuts when cutting my card stock. You can design these cards in programs such as Microsoft Word, Publisher or Canva (my favorite!) and create templates so you can just drop in a new photo whenever you need to make new cards. I usually design two notes on a page, print them out, cut them in half and then fold them. Get creative with your designs! People love receiving handmade and personalized items from those nearest and dearest. It’s like sharing a little piece of yourself and it means so much to those who receive it.