In 2014 an imgur user named Justin said his mom had passed away following a battle with Huntington’s disease. Then, in his subsequent grief, Justin had evidently gone searching through touching reminders of his late mother. And that’s when, he said, he stumbled upon a pile of treasures from her past. In fact, these treasures revealed a side of his mom he’d apparently never known before.
A child’s bond with their mother is naturally likely to be one of the most important relationships of their life. It often starts in pregnancy, of course, and is only strengthened after childbirth. It probably continues to be a crucial part of their existence throughout their formative years and into adulthood too.
The maternal bond is said to be so significant, in fact, that it shapes all of a child’s future relationships. A strong kinship can even produce high self-esteem and provide a feeling of security. Reports have also claimed that children who are close to their mothers are more able to do well at school and often less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs in later life.
Furthermore, even as children move into adulthood, their mothers can be one of their strongest allies, providing support and friendship as their lives grow. Often, in fact, moms will stand by their kids during the ups and downs that the world throws at them – until one day they are no longer there.
So losing a parent is surely among the hardest experiences any of us will have to go through. Some have even compared the event to losing a part of their identities. And bereaved children may also deal with feelings of sadness, shock, anger, denial and numbness for months following the passings.
In these difficult times, then, people might turn to the physical evidence of their parents’ existence for comfort. Old photographs, clothes and belongings can, for instance, provide feelings of closeness to the deceased and serve as reminders of happier times.
And while sorting through the items that their parents have amassed in their lives, grieving children may also stumble upon keepsakes that they’ve never seen before. These could be, perhaps, special memories from distant pasts, long gone but not forgotten, squirreled away from the prying eyes of loved ones.
And that’s exactly what seems to have happened to one imgur user named Justin following the death of his mother. According to his post, her health had been ailing practically all of his life. As a result, then, he had apparently never really known her as a physically fit adult, let alone a teenager or a child.
So, just two weeks after Justin’s mother’s death in 2014, he shared a post on imgur. In it, he wrote, “My mom started developing symptoms from Huntington’s disease around the time I was born. So I never really knew the person she was when she was healthy.”
For those who don’t know, Huntington’s disease is caused by a mutated gene in DNA and is passed down through families. The disorder also kills off sufferers’ brain cells and affects their nervous systems. And as a result, it can hamper movement, personality and how a sufferer thinks, with symptoms worsening over time.
Children born to a parent with the Huntington’s gene also have a one in two likelihood of carrying the disorder. They can, in fact, live with the gene for years without developing symptoms. But at some point the disease will advance, whether or not the gene itself has been detected.
Huntington’s disease can occur in both women and men too. And while symptoms can develop at any age, they are more likely to appear between 30 and 50 years of age. There is currently no cure for the condition, either. Symptoms can, however, be managed to improve sufferers’ life quality.
For Justin, though, Huntington’s had seemingly always been part of his life. Not only had his mother had the disease, he said, but his aunt and his grandfather had had it as well. And as the disorder is so prevalent in Justin’s family, doctors had apparently tested him for the condition after he’d turned 18. They found no trace of it, though, which reportedly left the teenager feeling like he’d “dodged a bullet.”
Justin’s mother, however, had not. And when she’d eventually passed away, Justin said, he had found himself looking through her belongings. And it was then that the grieving son had apparently stumbled upon a mysterious package, which happened to be stuffed with secret treasures from his mom’s past.
In fact, Justin said, someone had scrawled the words “Cheryl’s keepsakes” across the top of a large brown envelope. Intrigued, Justin then reportedly opened the package. And what he found inside apparently left him feeling like he was “getting to know [his mother] for the first time.”
In the envelope, it seems, Justin uncovered the sentimental keepsakes that his mother had collected and kept throughout the years. They evidently included a series of photographs, postcards from her sister’s travels, letters and even an early school report.
One of the oldest items that Justin said was in the envelope was a black-and-white photograph of Justin’s grandmother, looking glamorous and happy in her younger years. Commenting on the snap, Justin wrote, “An undated picture of my grandmother. I’d never seen this picture before!”
Other photos the imgurian showed off included ones of Justin’s mom, Cheryl, in her high school senior photos, sporting long blonde hair. Another showed her, dressed in a white dress and matching corsage, before her junior prom. Beside her in this photo stands a young Asian guy in a gray suit, pink shirt and tie.
Elaborating on the context of the lovely picture, Justin revealed that his mom had dated the guy, who was the only Asian boy at her school. “She took a lot of crap for dating him,” he wrote. “He was Japanese, and there was still anti-Japanese sentiment from my grandparents’ generation.”
However, revealing Cheryl’s tenacious attitude, Justin said that his mom was unbending when it came to her choice. “She kept dating him, though,” he said. And her son seemingly approved of the romance. “Who could blame her?” he wrote. “That guy can rock a suit.”
Apparently included among the items in the package was also a story written by Cheryl back in the third grade. Entitled “My Favorite Pet,” it tells the tale of a “funny” adopted pooch named Skipper who was “black with orange blotches.”
In the story, Cheryl describes her beloved dog, revealing, “In spring, he would jump over baby trees and turn somersaults. In winter, he would run and dive nose first into the snow.” Sadly, though, the story later reveals that Skipper met a tragic ending one winter’s day.
In Cheryl’s narrative, she explains, “The fog was so thick that you could only see a few feet. Skipper was lying in the road. A car came and ran over his leg and broke it. He couldn’t get up. Just then another car came and ran over his head. We had to shoot him to put him out of his miseries.”
Also evidently in the envelope, and dating from around the same time as the story, was an old school report. The document revealed Cheryl to be a generally good student. However, a note apparently from a teacher warned, “Cheryl’s attitude is not as good as it was. She has slipped in the past four-to-six weeks. She seems emotionally upset over something.”
And looking at the date of the report, Justin was apparently able to line it up with a turbulent period in Cheryl’s home life. “My grandfather also had Huntington’s disease, and he started showing symptoms pretty badly when my mom entered the third grade,” he revealed.
In a bid to cope with the strains of Huntington’s disease, Justin said, Cheryl’s father had turned to drink. “He self-medicated his anger at losing his mind by drinking every day,” Justin wrote. “He got more violent and angry as his disease progressed… It looks like it started to show in school.”
The next item that Justin revealed related to Cheryl’s school days too. It was a letter from a friend named Sandy. In the handwritten note, she appears to call Justin’s mom a “Richland Bomber,” which is seemingly a reference to Richland High School in Richland, Washington.
From the letter, it also appears as though Sandy had been attending a different high school to Cheryl but had been unhappy with the lack of attention she’d been getting from the boys there. “I’m stuck with Kevin,” she complained. “But I don’t mind it. I really like him. He’s really nice and cute too. Nothing serious.”
And after Sandy had summed up her own love life, she then proceeded to spill the beans on her fellow classmates. “Kay is happy with Blane,” she wrote. And revealing that a friend named Tina still liked a boy called Kevin, she pondered, “Lord knows how long she’s liked him. But he’s not the type that wants to get tied down to one girl.”
Yet once Sandy had exhausted her reserve of boy-related gossip, she moved on to tell Cheryl how much she, Kay and Tina had grown. She then finished the letter with an update on her bangs, which she’d been wearing “feathered half way down the sides.”
It certainly appears as though Sandy, Kay and Tina had played a big part in Justin’s mom’s childhood. Indeed, Justin revealed that his mom’s “keepsakes” contained three colorful, handwritten birthday notes addressed to Cheryl from the girls. One of them – from Tina – read, “I miss you a lot. I want to wish you a happy birthday. So long for now.”
But a large chunk of the envelope’s apparent contents actually related to Cheryl’s sister, Karen, and her travels around Europe in the 1970s. In one letter from Karen, in fact, the sister wrote of the difficulties of getting to grips with local train schedules and not being able to speak the languages. She also told Cheryl that she had been missing her.
Signing the note off, Karen then told her sister, “I hope everything is okay. I can hardly wait to get back in the States so I can call you. If you have a phone, send me the number so when I get to Phoenix I’ll have it. Miss you lots, love Karen.”
The letters and postcards that Karen had seemingly sent to Cheryl were likely particularly poignant to Justin, since he said both women were gone by the time he read them. Karen had, Justin related, passed away a few years prior to his mother, following her own battle with Huntington’s disease.
Another item that Justin revealed that he’d found among his mom’s possessions was a “Class of 1973 Book of Memories.” The document apparently revealed Cheryl’s own sense of adventure, as she wrote, “I enjoy moving to new places, and I like travel. I have visited Hawaii, but most of my vacations are spent skiing in the Rockies or the Sierras nearby.”
The extract also revealed that Cheryl, at that time, had been working as a mechanical designer in San Mateo, California. “Since high school, I have lived in three other states, working mostly on on-site construction of power plants,” she explained. “The states were: Idaho, Indiana [and] now California.”
Clearly proud of Cheryl’s achievements, Justin chose to then expand on her career. “My mom worked as a drafter for large scale construction and was one of the first women in the drafters’ union in Indiana. She quit and moved to California because the men there were very hostile toward her.”
The final few items Justin shared appeared to be handmade gifts he’d given his mother when he was young. One was a little love heart, while another was a paper bouquet he’d made in kindergarten. It seems that the latter hadn’t been given completely altruistically, though, as an accompanying note asked, “Now, where’s my bike?”
One seemingly more familiar keepsake for Justin was a note he’d written for his mom one Mother’s Day. In it, he promised, “I’ll try my best in every way. But when you get upset with me, relax and have a pot of tea.” Writing on imgur, he later reflected, “I didn’t realize what a little s*** I was when I was a kid.”
At the end of the post, Justin said he felt closer to his mom than he had before. But he had one overwhelming disappointment. “I really wish I had gotten to know her before she started getting sick,” he said. “But seeing this part of her life has at least let me see a bit of the person she was.”