For my mother – bereft of memory

My mother died when I was thirteen months old on 3rd January 1948.  She was thirty one years old.  She had Leukaemia at a time when there was little treatment, let alone a cure.  I am horrified by her death so young, and a little baby losing her mother so early, almost as if I am thinking about people I don’t really know.  And yet losing my mother has defined me in so many ways.  I have no memories of her.  But I can see now my passion for textiles comes in part from trying to hold something of her.

I have one thing she made.  It’s this folded satin embroidered handkerchief sachet.

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I still use it to hold hankies and scarves.   It’s made with scraps of a beautiful soft satin, now grey.  In the seams I can see it was once the palest pink.  More than sixty years on I can contemplate my mother’s stitching and discern something of her, how she worked.  Her style seems at once neat, orderly, and a little impatient in places but essentially practical.  It even has a tiny button covered in lace and a rouleaux roughly attached to do it up.

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What delights me most is the care and passion she has invested in the details – the embroidery, the quilting, and the gathered lacy edge.

But it is the tiny embroidered rosebuds that have created an extraordinary link for me to my mother.  Some years ago I decided to do a painting of the hanky sachet.   As I painted I made a discovery, something only she knew and I now know.

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The rosebuds look randomly scattered.  However I realised she had created a clear order and quite a complex pattern to their direction and placement – pink on one diagonal, blue on the other, and mauve on the edges.  This continues to feel like a powerful shared secret, a bond, unspoken but real, a genuine kind of communication and connection with my mother – almost as good as a memory when you have none.

 

Looking at my hanky sachet today I realise the maker in her is also in me and has inspired and informed my Woven Memories work.

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3 thoughts on “For my mother – bereft of memory

  1. What a beautiful story and powerful transitional object. Thanks for so generously sharing – opening hearts and healing through your storytelling!

    Like

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