Tag Archives: history

Rewind

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If I could turn back time…or place…

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you could turn back time?  I indulge in such fantasies now and then, particularly when my life does not seem to be going the way I would like it to go.  But if I had the ability to rewind my life, how far back would I want to go?  It’s a rabbit hole I could fall into and never come back from if I let myself dwell on it.

Maybe I would go back to when I was about five years old, before Becky Ezell drowned and my little life had not been touched by death yet.  Even at that young age I understood that the lifeless form in the casket only resembled Becky, but it was not really her, not anymore.  It was just the package she had lived in before she died.  She was about 12 years old when she drowned, but I have never forgotten that she was sweet to me.  It’s a big deal when an older kid is nice to you.

Or perhaps I would return to the first time I ever sang a solo in front of people.  I was in the Herald Children’s Choir at my church and Becky Kidd, our leader/teacher (and phenomenal church organist) had me sing a solo in a little musical we put together and practiced diligently to offer to our church family.  I think I was nine or ten years old.  So many times in so many places I have offered up songs since then, a gift for which I give thanks.

I think about the many turning points along the way, sometimes wondering, “What if I had chosen differently?”  Just one step in a different direction alters the entire trajectory of a life.  Would I go back to a decade…a year…a moment…for a do-over?

The whole last two years of Mama’s life…I’d definitely do those differently.  I screwed some stuff up there.  Probably the first two years after she died, too.  Worrying about other people’s grief kept me from properly processing my own.  It cost me in ways I am probably still paying for.

Or would I just go back to the first of this year, when my dog was still alive and I had plans that I felt would fix a lot of things for the people I love?  Wondering about it serves no purpose, I realize.  But sometimes it is difficult not to.  There is an old adage that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Perhaps these tangents are my way of trying to learn from history, and trying to look forward.

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Touched

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From their hands to mine…

Once upon a time, long, long ago, ladies wore gloves and carried handkerchiefs as part of their apparel for activities like church, shopping or lunch with other ladies.  It was a more genteel era, an age of structured dresses, pillbox hats and cultured civility.  I often wonder if I wasn’t born in the wrong time because I sometimes yearn for the days of gloves, hats and hankies.

As a lifelong collector with a large extended family, I have inherited some of my Granny’s, Mama’s and aunts’ gloves and hankies.  The detail and craftsmanship put into these tiny items is impressive.  Many of the gloves have decorative stitching or embroidery, and little bitty pearl buttons sewn onto the cuffs.  Most of the handkerchiefs boast intricate stitching and lace as well.

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From the research I’ve done and the variety of items I’ve inherited, there seem to have been specific occasions when a particular length of glove might have been worn, or when a certain hankie might have been carried.  Some of Granny’s handkerchiefs are decorated with motifs for Christmas, weddings or Valentine’s Day, while the gloves range from just-wrist-length to halfway up my arm.  Generally, the longer the glove, the dressier the occasion.  There used to be strict etiquette guidlines for such matters and those rules can still be found in old books and online.  It’s fun to look back at how fashion and manners used to be.

There are also treasure troves of items like these in antique shops, flea markets and on the Internet.  Vintage textiles fascinate me, and the gloves and handkerchiefs in particular, items that began as strictly utilitarian objects, started being decorated and embellished.  They became both useful AND beautiful, petite pieces of art, suitable for framing, shadow boxes and any other display method one can imagine.  I can only begin to imagine the stories behind these tiny treasures.

I guess that’s why the gloves and hankies from my family mean so much to me.  The stories that come with them are part of my heritage.  There were the gloves that I wore with my wedding gown that belonged to Mama, and to Granny before her.  Even though Granny had been gone for 13 years by the time my wedding day came, wearing her gloves made me feel like part of her was with me somehow.  Granny also kept her diamond wedding set tied into the corner of a little hankie when she wasn’t wearing them (which was most of the time because they were fancy and she didn’t want to lose them).  I wish I knew which hankie she used for that.  Before Jeff and I were married, his Aunt Ann made me a beautiful lace-decorated basket and pillow, and wiith it she gave me a handkerchief that had belonged to her mother, Jeff’s grandmother.  What a sweet and meaningful welcome into the family.  I carried it on our wedding day.

I can imagine the church revivals, weddings and funerals where those gloves were worn…the tears of grief and joy wiped from the cheeks of loved ones with those soft squares of embroidered linen and lace.  Ages later, I look at these mementoes and I feel the women of my family in the things that they once Touched.

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Tattered

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Why some things can never be discarded…

There is a quilt in my house that is tattered.  I don’t mean a little bit worn; I mean literally falling apart.  Yet I cannot bring myself to part with it.  And I can’t quite explain my attachment to it.  I just know I can’t throw it out.

Its history is something of a mystery.  I don’t know which side of my family it came from.  All I know is that it’s been in the family forever, and it shows every mark of its past.  Much of the fabric is disintegrating, with the cotton batting underneath exposed.

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It is beyond ragged.  Yet, as pitiful as it looks, it is also the softest quilt in the house.  It seems as though it always was the softest one, even when it lived in Mama’s house.  I will never forget the Christmas break I came home from college with a mouth full of ulcers and a torn-up stomach from the stress of exams, sick and exhausted.  I piled myself on the couch in the den downstairs under this ancient quilt, burrowing down into its softness, taking respite in the simple comfort of being home where my Mama could take care of me.

I guess maybe that’s why I can’t let it go, even though it is coming apart at the seams (and everywhere else!).  It is, among other things, a reminder of Mama’s comforting care and the many times she held me and tucked me into the comfort of that ratty old quilt when I was cold or sick or exhausted.

I miss her every day.  But the ratty, tattered quilt lives in my house to remind me of her care.  I am almost afraid to use it now, for fear that it will come completely apart.

I think, though, that it needs to live out the remainder of its life on my couch, with me burrowed into its ancient softness, remembering Mama and feeling her loving touch once more.  Maybe it will be buried in the casket with me when I die.

Somehow I think Mama would like that.

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