When I was little I never had a store boughten dress,” my mother said, “but my dresses were prettier than all the other little girls. My mother made all the dresses for my sisters and me, and she added little embroidered flowers, ruffles, gatherings and special touches to them all.”

My mom paused, and as if peering through the soft haze of many years, went on, “Your grandma had a hard childhood. Her dad died while she was an infant; her mom died when she was twelve years old. She was sent to live with an aunt but she was molested there and moved to another relative’s home. When she married my dad, he was thirty-six and she was eighteen. His wife had died and he had three little girls. That must have been a challenge for such a young mom.”

I looked at my mom. She was bent over her iron, eighty-six years old, beautifully dressed, at her work, making order, making beauty.

“Your grandma was a petite woman. She was very artistic,” mom said. ” She loved my sisters and brothers and me as children.” She paused and then looked over at me. “She was very artistic, you know.”

I looked at her and smiled, then at the wall where mom’s own paintings decorated her room.  I looked back at my mom, ironing there in her beautifully furnished and decorated room, making her clothing, and my dad’s, into perfectly flat surfaces.

“I like my clothes ironed,” she said. “No wrinkles.”

I glanced behind her, into her walk-in closet. There was her perfectly arranged wardrobe —  the fourteen purses on one shelf, the thirty pairs of shoes in cubicles, the fifty or more nit tops stacked neatly by season, the rows and rows of hanging jackets and pants and tops rich in color and lavish in texture.

“My mom loved her children,” mom went on. “She took really good care of all of us.” She stopped.

“Oh your dad tore his pants,” she said, and fussed over her work. “There is a little hole here,” and she pushed at it with her finger. Then she folded the pants along the seams and laid them in a drawer.

Driving home I from Los Angles that afternoon, I mused about my mom, Lois Hasper, a lovely woman. She learned some things from her mom, and she passed those on to her children, my brothers and I, and we passed them on to our children, and some of them are now passing these things on to their children. There is a photo in my mom’s room that caught my eye today. It is a picture of a great grandchild; she is in a pretty dress.

My mom tells me she is really old now, every time I see her, several times, “Your dad and I are really feeling our age now.”

She is old, but she is not done yet, and though she is tired, and ready to be done, she is even better in some ways now than ever before.  I think she has softened in the last few years. Always gentle, she has become more gentle, and sometimes, with her short-term memory loss — which she told me again today, “is so frustrating” — she seems to me again a precious little girl, in a pretty dress, loved by her mom and her sisters, with rows and rows of beautiful dresses in the closet behind her.

What is it?

There on the ironing board, here in this quickly-passing lovely-fading world — there is a line, running through our family, a line passing from my grandma to my mother to me and to my brothers, a continuous seam upon which we have all folded our lives, a colorful edge, a loving row of stitches, a doubled fabric, ironed smooth.

It is love. 

Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    What a gift your/our mother has been to the world. Throughout all her life she has loved Jesus, and tried to heal the world, and also make it beautiful. Her beauty and strength lives on through her family. We have been so blessed to belong to her.

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