Tag Archives: mom

day 49

2013-05-19 16.09.49

cowrie shell backsack from Pier 1 – circa 1985, making this vintage


today is really day 50 in the world of the 50 days of Easter. but for me, it’s day 49 on my journey. i brought it full circle with a bag i’ve had for around 28 years. back in my high school days – early to mid ’80s, Pier 1 sold clothing, scarves, bags and earrings. the stuff was so cool –┬áboho long before the word boho existed. i couldn’t wear a lot of the clothes, maybe a skirt here or there, but i could definitely work with the scarves and bags. i got this one when i was maybe a senior in high school. sometime around there. i was drawn to the shells.

so how has this bag stayed in the family when many others i’ve had through the years have been given away? it’s the shells. i love cowrie shells. maybe you’ve heard, but wikipedia can tell you: they were used as currency in Africa, Asia, and North America, and also as a sign of rank and authority in some cultures. they are also worn as jewelry and adornment in clothing and the hair, and are a sign of womanhood and fertility. i made a cowrie shell necklace for my wedding and put a fertility symbol on it to boot, and wore cowries in my hair. let’s just say it worked and leave it there.

i think cowries are beautiful. they also feel great to play with – i read they’re also used as dice. i have a dish of them in my living room. i grabbed this purse because i knew i was at the end of this journey and it woudn’t be complete without this bag, as it has been with me for so long. also, i needed red for Pentecost. my church, Calvary Episcopal Church, had a joint service with my childhood parish, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at a park in Mt. Airy forest. what a blessing THAT was!

the bag’s faded a little through the years, in part because i have it handing on my closet door where i can see it every day.

as i typed those words i was overcome with emotion. doing this work has reminded me of the many lessons that the strong women in my life, primarily mom and Joy, have taught me: live in the moment. appreciate and enjoy what you have. try to make someone else’s life better on your way. of course there are more, like those involving raggedy underwear… but we’ll leave those alone for now.

i remember one day coming home from working at the downtown library. we were living with my parents while david was getting his mba and n was a baby. this particular day, i had been asked for money by homeless people repeatedly. i asked mom, what do you do when people ask you? i feel bad when i don’t give, but i don’t always want to. here’s what she said: when the spirit moves you to give, give. if you don’t feel moved, don’t. either way, pray for that person and keep going. and pray for yourself to be open to the voice of the spirit within you.

happy Pentecost.

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day 42

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liz claiborne pebbled leather drawstring hobo at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption

mother’s day is a challenge for me, as my mom has been dead for 12 years. we came home from being at my in-laws for spring break the day before easter in 2001and stopped by my folks house before going home. as soon as we left, my dad took her to the hospital and she had triple bypass two days later – the day was going to have a biopsy, we later found out. when she did have the biopsy, she was diagnosed with colon cancer that had spread to her liver. she died three months later – 3 weeks before 9.11.

having a personal death close to that event made it almost impossible for me to grieve for her. her death was unfair to me, but some of it she brought on herself. meanwhile, here was this unimaginable, horrifying event unfolding – it made my mom’s death seem like something i should just get over. my dad imploded. i still had to parent and then help my dad. i was in a suspended, sleepless state for many, many months and years. less now than then, but i still have my stretches.

time does heal wounds, but mother’s day is still tough. this year was probably my best yet in terms of tear flow. i know it’s important for my girls to be able to celebrate mother’s day. i’m just not that into it, but i’m trying to be better.

regardless, i took the opportunity to use one of my favorite bags of hers as a phone case: i remember it having a short strap at one time but i probably wore it out. i mentioned this purse in another post, and in another, i referenced her love for tooled leather. while we didn’t always have the best relationship, especially from age 13-26, she instilled in me a love of accessories. she was really telling me to love myself. she was a nurse, so she wore a lab coat most days. but when she went to church… watch out! she believed in hooking up an outfit from head to toe, leaving no jewelry, scarf or handbag left behind. the older i get, the more i understand how important it was for her to have that corner of the world for herself. actually, it was three closets, but who’s counting?

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one of my mom’s old purses

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i used to play with this clasp a LOT

fortunately, my oldest had another concert and i was able to enjoy the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Northern Kentucky. what a gorgeous location. it truly helped take my mind off of missing mom so much. peace, and happy mother’s day to all the moms out there. i appreciate you.

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day 35

vintage tooled leather bag - probably from 1940s

vintage tooled leather bag – probably from 1940s

2013-05-05 16.04.33

close-up of clasp and tooling

my mom has been on my mind a lot lately. i mentioned in a previous post how much her love of accessories has influenced me. she had some amazing bags, i can’t BELIEVE i was not into fashion at the time of her death, and can’t remember what happened to many of her bags. i probably gave them away; i know i gave some to good friends of hers.

she would have really appreciated this purse. i bought it because when i saw it, i was immediately transported to her closet, which held similar purses. she loved tooled leather. she would use a purse until the edges began to unravel. i checked this bag carefully for any signs of wear, and other than slight wear in the strap from where the buckle was obviously buckled for years, i can’t find any.

2013-05-06 00.14.56what i did find were these tickets. while i waited for my daughter to sing in her final concert with bel canto, i decided to take a picture of the purse at the venue. i started looking for the manufacturer – checking pockets, zipping and unzipping zippers, and found these tickets deep in the interior zippered pockets. they’re for the Frozen Niagara at Mammoth Cave National Park. you can see the price of the tour was $1, today the tour costs $10. to add to the mystery, there’s no date on the tickets. so i checked some inflation rates and value of a dollar along with some images of similar purses online to guesstimate the age of the bag, somewhere in the 1940s – 1950s. cool!

so i feel good about owning a bit of beautiful history. seriously, every bit of the bag that is visible is tooled. i love a mystery, so finding the tickets was exciting for me and my middle daughter, upon whose lap the bag is sitting. and i have great memories of Frances Ann. i happily paid $20 for this bag at my favorite goodwill. thank you to whomever enjoyed it long ago and took such good care of it. until today, i’ve enjoyed looking at it hanging on a hook on the door of my closet. it’s a reminder of a beautiful person gone too soon, yet still with me.

day 20

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vintage Oroton frame purse

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Oroton Sydney detail inside

i have a thing for frame bags. i remember playing in my mom’s closet when i was little, and finding her frame bags and just opening and closing them. some of the hinges and closures were so cool. yes, my love of bags began in my mom’s closet. there was a vast array of purses to choose from. she was seriously into Aigner. she also had this patchwork leather satchel in colorful neutrals – totally ’70s . i wish i knew what happened to that bag, because i would rock it with abandon.

so when i saw this Oroton frame bag at my favorite goodwill, i thought ok, this could be cool. it reminded me of something my mom would own. i got closer and touched the leather, opened and closed it a few times, and was completely on board. now, i had never heard of this brand, but that wasn’t going to stop me from making a purchase. i was just happy to have something that reminded me of mom. here’s another case of a bag that i don’t carry often, but i just like to look at it.

it’s saturday, and i spent most of the day at home. i did go out to the library, so it was time to choose a purse. i went through my usual reticence about making a selection, and in frustration i impulsively grabbed this purse. i like carrying bags on my wrist or by the handles, so that was nice. the quality is amazing. so i googled it earlier, and found out about Oroton. Made in Sydney, Australia, “luxury” bag makers, high end stuff.

then i tried to find a picture of my exact purse. i could tell from the style that it was a little older, so i wasn’t sure i would find it. and then, there it was – on ebay.com.au where the bidding began at $79 and is up to $182.50 with a little over 5 hours to go. i paid $8 for mine. score, and a great reminder of someone i deeply miss.