Thursday, December 15, 2011
THE GHOSTS OF MOTHERS PAST
The email came as such a surprise. It was forwarded from my cousin Sally, who lives in Pennsylvania, and initially it made no sense to me. Most of the recipients’ names were unfamiliar, except for my three cousins’ names. It took a while for the puzzle to come together.
My mother, born in 1915 in Seattle, was one of five children. The first three of those five were girls, and I believe these sisters were not more than two years apart. Were they close? Like Velcro, I’d say.
These three sisters also happened to be tied closely to a group of friends they went to grade school with, then on to high school, then on to the world of work or education, onward into married life, post-children, grandchildren, their “mature” years, etc. etc. etc. They were lifelong friends. Close? Like glue. They celebrated not only major events together (weddings, baby showers, etc.) but also frequently gathered for luncheons, bridge, shopping, and always the laughter. My cousins and I remember learning about life from those gatherings – huddling on the stairs, eavesdropping on the stories and the whispered comments, and always, the laughter.
What this unexpected email contained was an idea put forth by two of the female offspring of these BFF’s – to have a reunion of all of the daughters to share stories, pictures, and the like. The response was positive, and a date and place was set. Laurie was going to be the hostess, and her mother, Minty (they all had nicknames: Odie, Andre, Mariah, Minty, Dickie, etc.), was going to be there too. Minty, at 96, was the last of the friendship group, and word was that she was looking forward to the gathering. Being able to spend time with one of my mother’s special friends was one more draw for me to attend.In the recipient list were approximately ten names. Five of us were cousins, and of the others, I only knew one. Because I have lived in faraway places, I haven’t connected much with my cousins in our adult years, and I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to do so, AND get to know some women I’d heard so much about many years ago.
I cashed in some air miles for a brief flight from Medford, Oregon, to Seattle. My rental car carried me on that rainy October day to the Magnolia neighborhood, where I arrived at Laurie’s beautiful home overlooking Puget Sound. This was actually the home of her parents, and I imagined my own mother enjoying similar festive events with her friends. I had a feeling she, her sisters, and other friends now long past, were with us that day, their spirits shadowed among the beautiful flowers and table setting she had prepared for us that day.We either introduced ourselves or hugged those we knew, and quickly got on to the stories and photos. We shared and laughed about the tales and antics of these lifelong friends, and pieced together different chronologies of events with the photos we brought. I’m sure the ghosts of our mothers past were giggling at our guesses of what their lives were like.
When our guest of honor, Minty, arrived, we all were awestruck that a link in this chain of friends was there with us. In a wheelchair, accompanied by an attendant, she was elegant in her pink suit and beautiful white hair. Now the questions began: “Who was the first to get married?” “Where was this picture taken?” Even though she is hard of hearing, she did her best to help us out. She became the missing link to the bits and pieces of information we brought together that afternoon.
Lunch was served and we gathered at the dining table that our mothers ate at many times with their hostess, Minty. The same china and silver were used, so lovingly preserved and cared for by Laurie. Outside we could view Laurie’s beautiful garden, still full of fall flowers. Our lunch setting was magical and we all commented on how we felt the presence of our mothers. We shared favorite recipes these women loved to make, and then brought home to their own families. We were networked together as young girls by these Seattle gal-pals. Little did they know that their friendship would carry on to such an event as we enjoyed that rainy Friday.My cousin Kristine brought each of us a present: a lovely coffee/tea cup to remember the camaraderie of our moms and the connection we now had as a group of their daughters. Perhaps when sitting and enjoying a cup of tea, we would conjure up found memories of either the generation past or the present one we had now solidified.
It was an incredibly special day. We vowed to not let this connection be broken. I know our mothers were smiling.
Technique: This is another piece in the style of Pamela Allen, collage work with pieces hand-stitched in place, then free-motioned with a design on top. The fabrics are all hand-dyed of course! The flower on the teacup is discharged (bleached), and if you look closely into the little faces on the flowers, you’ll see some eyes peering out at you.