Today is a remembering day. You know about those. It may be a snowy Thursday or a muggy Friday. It may be the last day of February or the first day of July, but something, some person, place, or thing or smell or recipe or song makes you remember. If it’s a remembering day that has appeared over and over through the years, then the remembering is often soft not hard, more happy than sad. Time is the great healer and the best teacher, but remembering is never finished.
Today I was remembering my dad on the twelfth anniversary of his death at the vibrant age of 84 and that got me thinking of my mom—who passed away at the vibrant age of 56. Dad in 2008 and mom in 1976. I reached for a box that I knew held the postcard from their honeymoon in Yellowstone National Park.
At the bottom of the box was a piece of fabric that I had not noticed before. It was a lovely linen fabric in a warm brown color as if it had been soaked in tea. The creases were strong from holding all of my mother’s greeting cards she received from 1943 to 1947—according to the postmarks. I followed the pretty blue line of embroidery that faced up at me and began to unfold what appeared to be a table runner. There was a catch. I gasped as I saw the sewing needle firmly stopped right next to the unfinished golden french knots.
She had stopped right there. She had completed the pretty blue lines, the red, pink, and the blue daisies. Her sewing needle, with only a couple of inches of gold thread hanging from it, stood waiting. It was time to rethread the needle—not the most favorite task of a sewer.
I wonder if the black rotary phone perched in the hallway had rung or if her mother, Julia, had called her for supper. Life interrupted. Unfinished.
At some point over the years she or my grandma placed it in the bottom of this treasure box and may have never looked at it again. They would have never thought that seventy years later it would unfold a remembering day.
My first response to the unfinished sewing project was delight. Delight in finding something made with my mom’s hands but also delight that maybe she, too, had a tendency—like her daughter—to start projects and not finish them. I used to do embroidery to pass the time on night shift at the hospital. I would have been bored with all the french knots, too, Mom.
My second response was similar to receiving a handwritten letter. There was none of her beautiful Palmer method handwriting. Rather, there was a simple message still being written with that long blue line and that silver needle calling for more thread.
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson