My mother would have turned 79 today. As some of you know, she passed away at the end of December on the night of my son’s first birthday. Since then, we’ve sold her house in Wilmington, DE, which was of course an emotional and difficult process. But there was also some solace in going through her beautiful belongings and incorporating many of them into our home. In honor of her birthday, I thought I would share some of these tangibles here: they make us feel her presence and remind us of the importance of enjoying your home.
This jug, pictured above, is now on our dining room table. I have always admired this – there are no markings but with the help of her dear friend Linda, I believe she bought it in the 70’s directly from the potter Mike Devinish. This was in the small town of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, where we lived until I was 14.
The crazy thing is that this philadendron cutting came straight from her house: the jug and cutting traveled to New York with me on the passenger side floor of my very packed station wagon one dark and melancholy night this past winter. The point is that my mother cut this tendril herself, probably several years ago – it is very special to still have a living thing that she nurtured. She displayed these cuttings in unique receptacles in just about every room of her house, and she kept them going forever…I haven’t had quite as much luck with this practice as her, but I hope I can keep this one going.
This crazy hippo stool sat in our family room for a long time. Though it currently sits in our library, I can imagine putting it in Ian’s room some day. I can attest that the top spins around infinitely in the most delightful way.
This is the only photo I could find of the hippo in its original habitat, i.e. wading in a shallow pool of shag carpet circa 1974 or 1975. I am probably about 2 or 3 years old.
This quilt was given to my parents for their wedding, so it is over 55 years old. I love how intricate yet informal the pattern is. The best part is that two of the squares have tiny mice posing with cheese.
I fondly remember searching for the mice with my mom and plan to do the same with Ian. Some of the squares were a bit frayed or ripped so I took it to a local quilt shop, The Happy Quilter, to get it repaired. The women in the shop treated this quilt as if I’d brought them a sheet of pure, folded gold. In fact, when I told them my mother had passed only a few weeks before, they wouldn’t let me purchase fabric in the store in order to replace a few squares. “Go in her closet,” they told me, “Get a shirt, a pair of pants, perhaps an apron,”and we’ll go from there.” And that’s exactly what I did. They gave me great advice and did a wonderful job on the repairs.
This dress was the biggest surprise – I’d never seen it before, not in photos or in any of my many forays into her closet to play dress-up. I was able to find out through the Vintage Fashion Guild that this label is from the 1960’s.
I didn’t expect that any of my mother’s clothes would fit me because she was always either thinner or heavier than I, but this fits me like a glove. The dress was full length so I had it hemmed to my knees. Several people have told me that after you lose someone, you start to see unexpected signs from them. Indeed, it almost felt as if my mom sent me this dress.
I donned it at at my birthday party in May and loved every second of wearing it.
Happy Birthday Mom. I miss hearing your laughter so much, but your love surrounds us everyday in so many tangible and intangible ways.