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.