Guest blog by Jane Harris

Memoir Builder Workshop

My Mother – God Rest Her Soul



The white love seat engulfs me as I sit in my living room.  A very large box is on the table in front of me.   I look out through the wall of windows at the beautiful golf course.  The deep green grass appears to be velvet here at the 150 yard line of hole number one.  The sun glistens on the sand contained in the bunker and the long tall palm trees sway just ever so slightly in the afternoon breeze.  I am enjoying this scene and at the same time procrastinating about the “job” ahead of me. 

It is “time” to “sort out” and go through some of my Mother’s “things”.  After all, she has been gone now for almost ten years and I live in a much smaller house in the desert that has extremely limited storage space.  Surely, I did not need to keep everything!  I reached over to take off the tape and open the box.   Written across the top and on the side simply said “My Mom”.  I remember writing that and being sad and thinking at the time, it was distressing to me.  At the end of our lives all our stuff gets put into a box and stored away.  Inside the box on the very top was a folder containing all the cards I had received from friends along with her funeral  program.  I closed my eyes and relived those moments.  I felt a tear on my face and I wondered.  “Will it ever stop hurting this much?” 

I reached back into the box and pulled out a bulky sewing box.  It was plastic and a transparent brown in color so that you could see into it on all sides.  I could see in the bottom a small red box tied with a white ribbon.  Looking into each layer and then removing them from the box I could see that it was pretty much your average sewing contents.  When I reached the bottom layer, I pulled out the red box and removed the white ribbon.  It was a satin ribbon and it fell to the ground when I untied it.  The inscription on the box said “Sandford — bone china – made in England” Inside the box was a beautiful thimble, white with a gold band on the bottom of the bell shape.  Several green clovers were painted on the sides.  It made me smile.

You see, my Mother was a career woman from 1950 to 1968……most of my growing up years.  She went off to work every day.  I do not remember seeing her performing any domestic duties.  We had a cleaning lady who came twice a week to take care of all of those functions.  My brother and I could not smell cookies baking when can home from school.  The house was cold and lonely.  It was a time when all my friends had stay-at-home Moms and I didn’t have that luxury.  Many times it was our responsibility to start the dinner or do some other domestic job.  Thinking back, I believe that was why it was so important to me to be a stay-at-home Mom until my daughter was sixteen.

Three years after Bob and I were married, we announced I was going to have a baby the next March.  My Mother was retired by this time and before you could blink an eye, she had bought a sewing machine.  It was “state of the art” and did everything, she would say!  I secretly thought this was comical because she had never sewn anything before in her entire life.  What the heck is she doing?  Has retirement made her crazy?  Well, the joke was actually on me because she taught herself to sew and soon I had an entire maternity wardrobe and several baby items.  By the time Debbie was born, I had just about every item of baby clothing I would need for the first year!!  She even made receiving blankets and crib blankets.  She made them all with so much love and skill…….it was incredible to see the superior workmanship she put into each item.  Soon, one of her bedrooms had been converted into a sewing room complete with a large table to do cutting, an ironing board and shelving for material in addition to the sewing machine which had a place of honor at the window.  That is where the best light is, she would say.  Mom continued this “hobby” as she “coined” it for many years.  She made most of Debbie’s clothing until she was about eight years old.  She even made clothing for her Barbie Dolls.  I can’t imagine how she had the patience to work on such small things!  However, I have to say that my daughter had the best dressed Barbie on the block!  Those items have been passed down now to my granddaughter!

Mom loved making all of it and could talk for hours about what she was making at the time!  I have never ceased to be astounded at how professional she became and what an amazing thing it was for her to teach herself this skill when she was in her late fifty’s.  Bless her heart, that was when I actually realized that my Mom could do anything!

2 Comments to “Guest blog by Jane Harris”

  1. Jane,

    Absolutely beautiful and eloquent. It brought not only a tear to my eye but the last little push I needed to revisit my “stuff” and see the task in a new light, an awakening adventure rather than a chore.

    In admiration,


  2. Jinny Dillon
    10:32 am on January 26, 2012
    Awesome, Jane! And thank God, I read this today because now I am NOT going to give away the quilt pieces my Mom gave to me that she started from my grandmother and I will ask my cousin to finish the quilt to keep it in the family. Some of the material was from dresses she had made for me when I was a child! And I was ready to dispose of it?!!! Look what your writing did for me! What a blessing you are! Well, I kind of knew that anyway….. Lov ya! Jin

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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