Moving Up a Branch in the Family Tree

Dad’s been gone for a while But mom was still here.   She was the “place holder”, the one that kept us all from moving up one more branch in the Family Tree.

Mom left us today.

Today, we have a new place on the Family Tree. Not one that we were at all prepared for.   We are now the top Branch.   We are now the oldest in our Family Tree.   In the past that venerable position always went to the elders in the family. The ones who gave us our family history and who shared stories with us about the days gone by. The ones who always brought us news of what Aunt or Uncle or Cousin were doing.

Mom left us today.

We are now the Elders.   How did that happen? Wait, I am not ready to be the Elder.   Mom has always had that job. I am not ready; I am too young to be the Elder. The Elder is the one we turn to for “the final decisions”. The Elder is whose home is always our holiday destination.   The Elder was the keeper of the family traditions. The Elder is always home when we pick up the phone and call.   The Elder can always find that special recipe we remember from our past.

Mom left us today.

The police came dressed in their neatly pressed uniforms to be unbiased witnesses to her passing.   The Coroner came in his black car and his professional black suit and handed us his business card and said “We will now take her’ into our care.”



I am not yet ready for this to be the end. You can do that?   You can just peacefully and swiftly pick her up and remove her from this sanctuary that she has guarded, nurtured and preserved for the past 40 years?

Just like that, you can take her into your care?

Mom left us today.

What would mom do next?   Oh yes, I know.   She would pick up the pencil lying next to her steno pad and start making a list of what to do next;   Who needed to be contacted, which personal papers needed to be located, what arrangements needed to be made?

Mom you trained us well.   We will grow into our new place on the Family Tree.

Thanks mom.

Rest in Peace


  1. Thank you for a very sweet…bittersweet, actually…article. I can truly relate! Please accept my sympathy for your loss.

  2. Alexis Rothrock says:

    Oh,Janice, you have so beautifully expressed how we all feel. Please express our sympathy to Charlie. Is it time for a book from you. Your talent knows no bounds. Alexis

  3. My condolences in your loss. I also had the ‘Elder’ epiphany when my maternal aunt died last year, and suddenly it dawned on us all that we were the ‘go-to’ people in the family now (none of us are EVER ready for that role). All we can do is take what they taught us, and pass it on to the younger generations. Don’t wait to ask your older generation questions that you do not want to spend the rest of your life regretting that you didn’t ask before they were gone. Our children need roots so they can flourish; we need to be the ‘tree stewards’ for them. Don’t keep all that knowledge behind your eyes, share it and enrich your family’s existence with love, laughter, tears, and remembrance.