In the far corner of an upstairs closet buried under a mound of shoes, I found a treasure. Dollarwise it wasn’t worth much – just a plastic sewing box with a broken lid. The usual notions camouflaged contents Mom deemed priceless – bits of paper preserving precious gems of her memory. Written there were the names and birthdays of her kids, the date and place of her wedding and the name of the man she married. Other slips noted names of parents and siblings, cousins and in-laws. Among the crumpled papers was one of her gifts from Dad – a ring I thought had been forever lost.
As I mended a skirt for the first day of a new school year, I was struck by the difference in our hands. Mom’s hands, with long slender fingers, were always tanned with polished nails. Those hands could tame a tangled ponytail, peel and fry a skillet of potatoes in a flash and swiftly swing a switch at dancing legs. The special ring had adorned her right hand as sweetly as her wedding band had her left.
This is the mom who fashioned a swimsuit coverup from a bath towel for church camp, and created some stunning 70’s fashions to update my teen wardrobe. Two stand out – a shimmery yellow skirt with matching top and a vibrant purple polyester pantsuit (yep, bellbottoms with matching sleeveless vest). She eventually abandoned even simple sewing tasks, though later she pulled at stray threads in the air, perhaps mending mangled bits of memories she could no longer share. Other times those precious hands would straighten my collar or check my buttons, probably silently fussing at me for not using a needle and thread more often.
My clumsy mending lasted through that first day of school. Afterward, I visited Mom to share my excitement and give her a chance to smooth my skirt and straighten my bangs. I made the day extra-special and wore that ring. Her mind could not give voice to her thoughts, but Mom’s love was there in her touch, her smile and her gaze.
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9 this year of 2021. Alzheimer’s stole 24 Mother’s Days from our mother. This is in memory of Ruth Evelyn Bizzell Pearson, mom to Glenn, Phyllis and me.