I went to a funeral a couple of days ago, and as I took my seat, a woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, “Are you Collene?” I was taken totally by surprise…for two reasons really. The first was that if this woman knew my mom, Collene Byer Spencer, wouldn’t she know that I was not old enough to be her, and secondly, I was surprised because I have never thought that I looked like my mom, but rather my dad, or more exactly, my dad’s sister, Ruth Spencer Wolfe. My first reaction was to get clarification. I turned to her in surprise and said, “Excuse me?” Again, she asked me if I was Collene. I said, “No, I am her daughter.” I was still trying to clarify, and so I asked if she meant Collene Spencer. She said yes, that was indeed who she meant. It was one of those “ton of bricks” moments, and I certainly felt like I had been hit with each brick in that ton. I did not recognize the woman, and since Mom has been in Heaven for over a year now, I knew that this woman couldn’t have seen Mom in a very long time either…and yet Mom was not forgotten.
We spoke for a few minutes, during which time she told me that she was Joyce Heid, the daughter of a long time friend of the family. We talked about our parents…all of them in Heaven now. She knew that my dad had passed away, but not about my mom’s passing, which she was surprised to hear about. We talked about how the families were doing, and about the closeness of our parents, and then the funeral was about to start so we couldn’t visit any longer. My mind kept drifting back to our conversation, and wondering what she saw in my face that reminded her of my mom. It isn’t the first time that someone has connected me to my family due to the strong family resemblance, but apparently it is something that I will never get used to. It’s just so strange to me, because what they see in me is not something I can see. I have been told that I look like my aunt, my dad, my daughter, my granddaughter, my sister, just recently another sister…and now, my mom. Looking like my daughter, Amy Royce and my granddaughter, Shai Royce weren’t as surprising as some of the others, but I think my mom was the most surprising. I simply don’t see it.
The incident has been on my mind since it first happened…as has my mom. I keep looking back in my memory files to pull up pictures and moments in life when I might have looked my mom, but try as I might, I just don’t see it. Life takes many twists and turns, and yet somehow it seems that it always tends to come back to where it began. Our parents may be in Heaven now, but their echo still remains in the hearts of their loved ones, in pictures, in their house, in moments and holidays, and even in the memories of their friends. While every “ton of bricks” moment is hard at the time, it leaves behind a sweet memory of the loved one that our hears miss so much. Mom, whether I look like you are not, and I must in some way, it was such a sweet moment to have someone from your past keeping you in their memory files too. You are always remembered. I love you and miss you more than words can ever say.