My mother died of Lupus when I was three years old. Since then, I have moved halfway across the country and my father has remarried. I have no memories of her or my life in my old home. I was wondering if there is anything that I can do in order to recall these memories. I would give anything to be able to remember something about my mother and our life. Even the smallest memory would be something that I would cling to.

A: Please don’t be discouraged or think poorly of yourself because you can’t remember things directly. Most people have few memories before the age of 3. Often the memories they do have are more like snapshots than movies. The good news is that people live on in other people’s memories as well as in our own. You can learn a great deal about your mother by listening to other people’s stories.

Your dad may have remarried but he is still your dad. It is absolutely appropriate for you to ask him to spend some time with you to tell you about your mother. He loved her once. He watched the two of you together when you were very small. Ask him to tell you about what that time was like. Then reach out to other relatives to do the same. Perhaps you can find your mom’s best friend from college or from early motherhood. Those friends can offer another perspective about who she was.

As you hear the stories, you may find that you have flashes of memories of your own. But even if you don’t, you can create a wonderful store of information that will help you know your mother and, I suspect, learn more about yourself.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie