My Mother’s Handkerchiefs
I recently found dozens of my mother’s handkerchiefs in the bottom of an old trunk in the bedroom of her home. Sadly, I found them as I painfully went through the process of organizing her belongings. My mother passed away two years ago and for as long as possible, I had been prolonging the start of sorting through her small collection of personal items. The process seemed to take hours, not because of the volume of items, but because of the volume of memories. Every item I held in my hand was a memory. Every trinket, every book, every object was a memory connected to our life together. But I packed things away. Some were to be given to family. Some were to be given to charity. The handkerchiefs, however, stayed in my hands. I spread them out on the table to look at them. I picked them up, one by one, to examine them. Touching the delicate embroidery was almost like touching the delicate hands of my mother herself. I held each one to my nose, hoping, just hoping that I might catch the fragrance of the perfume my mother always wore. I had not seen these handkerchiefs for years, but I remembered them. And as I sat quietly at her kitchen table, the same table where I sat as a boy, and as I collected all my emotions, I realized that the handkerchiefs were a personification of my mother herself. My mother’s handkerchiefs reminded me of the simple, but eternal truth that my mother cried for me. The truth is undeniable. Mothers cry for their children. There are tears of joy and tears of sorrow; tears of exuberance and tears of exasperation; tears of bliss and tears of pain. A mother’s tear is a different tear. By the very nature of how we are connected, a mother’s tear is just different. It is the outpouring of the deepest, the purest, the most selfless love. My mother needed her handkerchiefs, because she would see my brothers and me rise and fall. Our joy was her joy. Our pain was her pain. She would need her handkerchiefs when she found out she would be bringing us into the world. She would need them when we finally arrived. She would use them when we took our first steps and when we rode our first bike. She would use them when we hit a triple and when we struck out at the plate four times in one game. She would use them when we found the love of our life, and she would use them again when that love left us in pain. And she would use them still again when we went off to war and when we returned different, lonely, and broken. My mother needed her handkerchiefs because the moment she found out she would be a mother, a new wellspring would start within her. And it is from that wellspring, the wellspring that only a mother can have, that there would be the outpouring of love that only a mother can share. My mother’s handkerchiefs reminded me of this cherished sharing. And so I go into my second Mother’s Day without my mother. And I will sit in my study on Sunday morning, and like every morning over the past two years, I will lovingly think of my mother. But on Sunday morning, Mothers Day morning, I will shed a deeper tear. That’s ok. On my desk now I have a handful of my mother’s handkerchiefs.
Happy Mother’s Day.
A friend of WH
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