Saturday, October 27, 2012

Honoring Ruthe -- A String of Pearls (Originally written/posted September 18, 2010)

Today would have been my mother's 88th birthday.  It's the first one that I can really focus on since her death.  Last year I was still to shell-shocked with Eric's murder and Heather's injuries to pay much attention to anything.  But time has passed.  And my mother's memory continues to be a gentle balm to my spirit.  She still is teaching me and still is bringing a smile to my heart.

When I was three, the elementary school my brothers (and later I) went to had their usual celebration of Halloween.  The kids wore their costumes to school, had parties filled with lots of sugar, and then proceeded to walk all the sugar off in a neighborhood parade to show off the inventive costumes.  I think it was the same year* one brother (and I think it was Jimmy, but it could have been Eric) went dressed as a mummy.  He completely wrapped himself in strips of cloth for the authentic look.  Unfortunately, on the parade around the school, the strips began to unravel.  As various body parts and skin began to appear, neighbors placed bets on what was underneath.  Luckily, for all concerned, the family jewels were covered by a speedo bathing suit, so some dignity could be preserved. 

With all the excitement of big brothers costuming themselves, I announced to my mother I wanted to dress up, too.  What did I want to be?  A Mommy, came the reply.

"Oh", my mother said.  "What does a Mommy wear?"

"Pearls, a hat and white gloves," I confidently answered.  "And she has a baby."

Bless my mama's heart -- she helped me be a Mommy.

This morning, as I woke up remembering Ruthe, I wanted to do something special to honor her.  My white gloves are soiled, and my hats aren't the sort the 3 year old me had in mind, and my baby is a young man out at Stanford, but I have pearls, my mama's pearls that we kids gave to her on her 63rd birthday, a few years after my father died.  She had always wanted real pearls, but had wanted my father to buy them for her.  His mother had once given her pearls, and she'd returned them, saying that she would wait for her husband to give them to her.  Well, he somehow missed the memo, because she never got them.  We kids decided to each use some of our inheritance to buy her pearls from Eli.  I'd say in the 25 years she had to wear them, they were her most worn piece of jewelry.  When I turned 50, she gave them to me, with the understanding that they were her's until she died, then they were mine.

So this fine September day, I am wearing my Mommy Pearls.  I may be in jeans and a tee shirt but I've got my pearls. I wore them to breakfast, to Belly Dancing, to Yoga, to grocery shopping, to releasing BookCrossing books, and maybe even in my bath tonight.  I wear them in remembrance of beautiful bumma, the remarkable Ruthe, who I am privileged to call both mother and friend.

(*Edited to note that there is a picture of Eric as a snake charmer that year, but I can't find one of the mummy boy, so still don't know if it was Jimmy that year, or Eric another year.  Could have been either.  My brothers both got the creativity gene.)

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