Friday, December 11, 2015

Things, Just Things

I pulled on my winter coat yesterday and reached into my pockets taking inventory by shape. Hmm, that round form must be the ear muffs I misplaced last year. Then I felt the fur of leather gloves and a shock of recognition ran through me. A month earlier I had been cleaning out the home of my late mother, filling bags with winter gear for Goodwill. In the midst of well-worn hats and scarves were the gloves from Italy. Now these were not just any gloves.  I remembered when they were new as I stroked the velvety leather in the Florence marketplace, soft white fur lined their interior. Market stalls surrounded a statue of a boar, his nose shiny from being rubbed by so many hoping to return. A rub of his nose is said to make that occur.  They were easy purchases, luxurious without taking up much room. We discovered the same size fit us both. These gloves were now well worn, bearing the imprint of my mother's hand. I slipped my hand within them seeking my mother's embrace. Hand in hand. I pulled the gloves off and slipped them into my pockets. And forgot about them until now.

Things that carry the residue of a much loved person. As if I could conjure her whole from this clasp of hand. I've been thinking a lot about things that carry my mother's imprint. Seeing the world through her eyes. When Hanukkah began this year I decided not to light our more modern menorah. I opened every cupboard searching for the one my mother had given me. A mirror image of her own. Frantically I opened cabinets, fearful I had misplaced this trace of my mother.  When I lit the candles I used a matchbook from a wedding she had attended with me. I had loaned her an eyebrow pencil in the restroom. Such odd things we remember and what an odd chain of associations.  Mom-Menorah-matchbook-wedding-eyebrow pencil-candle.  Now as I said the prayer over the candles I thought of her and sought her presence, wrapping her around me.

I've brought back little tokens of my mother's house. Many things that I had given her. Our taste was similar so she was easy to shop for, already part of me. She used to put glass plates in her window and colorful pieces of glass for the light to shine through. They now grace my kitchen window and I think of her when they glow with light. This fall the tree outside that window was a beautiful red orange. I looked at that with my mother's eyes, remembering how she would gather colorful leaves and use them in her collages. I took a picture and sent it to my sister. "Mom would have loved this."

On one of my visits in my mother's last year she drew me into her bedroom and pulled out her jewelry.  She didn't have much of value, but she wanted to make sure that I knew of two pieces in particular, one an engraved locket my father had given her when she was 17 with a photo of her on one side and him on the other, the other an engraved ID bracelet she had given him in return over seventy years ago.  I polished the tarnished silver and at Thanksgiving I gave them to my nieces, the next generation.

When I opened the locket, I inhaled deeply.  A familiar scent wafted out, that last trace deeply imbued in this cherished memento.

Things, just things, but laden with meaning.  Holding a spirit within them.

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