“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


this story starts with a friend named skye

she's a quilter, and a generous, heartful, heart-full soul, and she said to me to pick out some clothes of my mother's, that she would make a small memory quilt for me, a pillow, whatever, and you know, she would do that with her own two hands, and it touched me that someone would go to so much trouble, but in the end i couldn't do it.  i'd not saved anything of my dad's, not clothing wise anyway, but i thought i would do so this time around, this so-much-harder time, and i told my brothers and niece and sister-in-law to take what they wanted, that i would pack the rest of her clothes; i knew it would be hard, i wanted to do it alone so i could cry all alone. and then another too kind soul, my wonderful wonderful sister-in-law offered to do the packing for me, to save me the heartache and the heartbreak, and i told my brother, her husband, to tell her i needed a day to think about it and then i fell apart.  into little pieces on the floor, onto my knees as i hung up the phone, sobbing and crying and snotty and sobbingsobbingsobbing and it wasn't pretty.  as i said, i just fell apart.  could not stop.  i was here at work and i just dissolved into a puddle of noisy gasping sobs and tears and the ever-wonderful michael could do nothing but put his arms around me, and lilycat even rubbed against me, trying to soothe me, and eventually i did, i stopped, or at least it got less awful, and i even stayed a little late and tried to catch up on the so much stuff i am behind on, and eventually i truly did stop, and i sent my sister-in-law a message telling her thank you, but no, it was something i needed to do.  had to do.  that i would do it in a day or 3 or 4. 

and so it was i found myself alone on a friday night, or maybe a sunday night, beginning the saying goodbye to my mother's clothes.  and what i found was what i knew in my heart to be true all along.  the clothes i remember her in best are not clothes i want to keep.  like that pink striped robe, i forget the name of the cotton fabric, only that when i was a child she made me a pair of blue striped pajamas from that fabric, trimmed with rickrack, and we traveled all the way to st. louis to visit a cousin of hers who was dying. i loved those pajamas, but her robe was worn and ragged and i just couldn't keep it. the memories are too big.  she had more silk shirts than i'd thought and she was tiny - nothing would fit me - and we had different tastes, but i put aside a few shirts, i thought skye can use these, but i will think about it, all the time knowing i would have to tell her i just couldn't do it, and feeling pretty bad about that, but knowing i couldn't all the same, hoping she would understand.  i kept folding and separating button down shirts from knits and suddenly i found myself staring at some heart shaped buttons on a shirt i barely remembered, remembered mostly the high collared neck the way she liked, buttoned all the way up, perhaps that's why the buttons said so much, and i wanted them.  those buttons.  they spoke volumes.  i will just keep them, i thought, and that will be enough.

and then a third person entered the story.  theresa, she of the magic massages.  i told her about the buttons, and she said i could make some art with them, like that thing you did of your dad, she said, but the instant she said dad i knew what to do and where the buttons would go.  i have 2 tin mexican nichos on a bedroom wall - small glass display boxes, each barely bigger than a matchbox, tin stars surrounding them; they don't match, but they are a pair, just like a relationship.  in one there is a mica fish, blown from a windchime that once hung on the tree next to my father's grave; i'd found it one day laying next to his tombstone and taken it home.  the other box held a pearl and a penny just because i liked the way they sounded together, but no more.  now her buttons plus that pearl.  it is perfect.

and so thank you skye.  for making me look.  and thank you judy, for your offer and for unwittingly bringing the hurting tears that took so long to come.  and thank you theresa, for lulling me into almost not thinking, where the real ideas live.  i kind of hate wasting the good stuff on art anyway.



  1. uhhh - grieving - that slow, sometimes instantaneous, travels through a space, of time, of being, of nothingness, yet everythingness.
    angels be with you sweetheart as you make these discoveries, as you travel this path.
    love you hugely,

  2. Know what you're saying.I have a old fishing license and a very old tie clasp of my dad's and lace off a nightgown of my other. Those are the things that link me to them, and I still miss them. Keep moving forward. It may seem like no steps at all, but there is movement and someday you will remember all the good.

  3. Isn't it wonderful to have friends that can hear our heart cries? Even if their answers aren't ours, we benefit from knowing we're heard.

  4. You continue im my thoughts and prayers (((((hugs))))).

  5. hearts and a single pearl encased in a star, but in your heart forever - how beautiful

  6. ..it is those little seemingly unimportant things that will astound you, and ease the pain. buttons? yes, buttons.
    my father's pipe. handwriting on documents written long ago when the handwriting was strong and young..that mesmorizes me, and fills my eyes with tears. the hand hammered heart of a metal that my father sent my mother from France in WWII that i had never seen before until i went thru her things in the days after her death, buried perhaps for years as she remarried and it was put deeply away. but i found it. and i wear it around my neck. it heals me.
    may your buttons heal you. and other things in your findings.
    i know where you are. i have been there. sometimes, i am still there.
    in my fondest of thought, Tilda

  7. those tears that take so long to come are the healing kind, the kind you need to shed to move forward. i love that the buttons were hearts, those hearts that follow you, love that you found a place for them next to something that links to your father.
    more hugs.

  8. poetry in the folding and the realizing ..the buttons and the breakdowns ..all poetry . i ache for you but know this journey is how you get from here to there

  9. What a gift you friends gave you of the encouragement just to think. I like what you followed in your heart by saving the heart buttons. You will treasure them. Sending your more hugs.

  10. Following the trail of your thoughts and rose petals of grief scattered over the past month, feeling so sad that I'm just coming in now to share the sorrow. So much loss, grief, change...my heart reaches out across the miles between us...

  11. i treasure every word of this post*

  12. how fitting that your letting go led you to this perfect place for keeping your mother's hearts/buttons.
    sending you love

  13. all things find their place
    not all things are meant to be kept

    your mom knew and sent you the perfect message.

    i think that reading this has made me a better mother for knowing how difficult a child's grieving is. i will be a better mother to my children as a result of this post.

    no kidding.

    thanks Debi. xoxoxo

    p.s. your mother raised a damned good girl.

  14. All these moments are healing moments... and I'm so glad you are finding them surrounded by such beautiful souls...



  15. Ouch and hugs!
    You can use the fabric from the skirts to make silk camisols with tap pants~ great pjs(grin).
    Take care.

  16. i'm listening... reading and hearing your every word, feeling your every ache, witnessing each discovery you make in this unplottable landscape.

  17. The old and familiar
    are worn threadbare
    by the days and years___
    we see them new
    and then old___
    the time between
    slips past us
    while life
    goes its way

  18. This post really touched me -- too complex to explain but I think I understand what you are going through. Take care, and thanks for these wonderful posts.

  19. some things are just meant to be...your finding the buttons, those special friends saying the right things at the right time. i have carried a collection of my mothers things for a very long time...little reminders, things that are special. they have a special place in every house i am in.

  20. i check every day. i re-read. i think. i pray. you are often in my thoughts when i sit still and have time to let thoughts overtake me. your mother brings back my mother. your journey, like all of ours who have taken this journey, brings back the times. the good, the sad. the events. the people around us. it is remembered.
    just checking again today to see how you are?
    in fond regard, Tilda

  21. 13 years later, I STILL have boxes of my mother's clothes. The ones that I remembered her the most in which is quite a few. To make matters worse, she made most of them. Sigh...no. It is not easy. Take as long as you need to. I had a large quilt made for my baby sister's bed. I had rugs made for each of my sibling (5 of them). They were rag rugs and woven by a weaver friend.
    It's hard. It's so hard. And you ask yourself how much more can your heart hurt so inside of your chest?
    Hugs and love to you, my friend. And many healing prayers.

  22. Oh, I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I know what it's like to lose a parent. There's a well of grief and words just don't see be enough... I remember the kind actions of friends, though. I'm glad that you have family and friends who care about you near you, wanting to make your life easier during this time.

    PS: I have a tin filled with my dad's Cdn Air Force buttons. I've been meaning to do something with them.

  23. Hi you,

    I haven't been around blogging much...you know me. But I am always always thinking about you.

    These words are so beautiful. I so love the thought of a windchime hanging on a tree next to your father's grave. What a beautiful sentiment, as are the tiny starry boxes that hold the things so dear to you.

    Sending you so much love.


come. sit under the emma tree & let's talk. i have cookies . . .