Mother's Day mementoes.
All of us have them, something to remind us of Mom and cherish year 'round, not just on this day.
Especially if she's gone.
Like my mother, Eileen, who passed in 2008.
I've got plenty.
Framed snapshots on our living room wall of her with Sherri and me at my sister's backyard pool one of our last summers together.
Another picture in our hallway of Mom and Dad on their wedding day 65 years ago last week.
A photo on my work desk of the two of us silhouetted by a sunset as we gazed upon it from Fort Myers Beach.
Then there are the unusual keepsakes, whose meaning run just as deep.
A tattered personal $25 check Mom mailed me with a birthday card years ago, but I never cashed. Lord knows, she needed it more than me.
An Irish knit cap she bought me that's falling apart after 30 years, but I can't bear to throw away.
A Kleenex she used to blot her lipstick while she was staying with me at my old house in Wares Creek. It's framed on the desk in my study.
Next to it is another framed photo that touches upon an everlasting memory of the place I let my mother go.
It's a photo Mom took of Benbulben, the prominent tabletop mountain that rises in Sligo, Ireland, where her mother was born.
What's uncanny is she took it at night from a distance. Yet its distinctive profile -- shaped like the bow of an old U.S. warship -- is clearly defined against the fading twilight.
We loved Benbulben, gazing at it for hours during our half-dozen visits to Sligo, where we still have family.
It is the resting place of W.B. Yeats, the beloved Irish poet who called Sligo home.
It is also the haunt, Gaelic myth has it, of Irish spirits like the giant Finn McCool.
Mom's is now among them.
After three straight days of rain that September in 2009, the weather had finally cleared by Monday, and Sherri and I hiked far enough up a slope of Benbulben to scatter my mother's ashes.
It was magical.
When I tossed the first handful into the air, it fell but a few feet.
Then as I tossed up the second handful a strong breeze arose, carrying the ashes away with it. It continued to blow as I carried out my labor of love.
Benbulben's spirits were alive, indeed.
My mother's, too.
When I was done I offered up a toast to her, tossing a shot of Irish whiskey into thewind.
Aah, but after the parting glass came a parting gift from Mom, a moment in time we will remember the rest of our lives.
I proposed to Sherri and she said yes.
Happy Mother's Day, everyone.
Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix.