The Power of Softness

SpursThe holidays have always been a time of togetherness for my family and some of my oldest memories are from this season. It’s only natural for me to “remember when,” so it never comes as a surprise when I develop that unmistakable longing for my mom. If only there were a way to satisfy such a longing with conversation or a hug! Of course, it’s impossible, since Mom passed away in 2008. Recently, a conversation I had with my friend, Jean, about our mothers gave me an idea, and while it can’t help fulfill my yearning as a daughter who has lost her mom, it might make a difference someday for you.
IMG_5821After her mother’s death several years ago, Jean found herself hesitating over an old sweater as she cleaned out her mother’s belongings. Rather than going into the donation box, somehow the sweater found its way home with her. In our conversation, Jean told me there have been a few times over the ensuing years that she’s pulled the old sweater off the hanger and actually worn it. She shared that the softness of the sweater next to her skin feels like an embrace from her mom, a sense of being enveloped by her essence and her love. I’m touched by this lovely sentiment.

Sadly, many of us will face the deconstructing of our parents’ household somewhere along life’s journey. Knowing first-hand the stress involved in this difficult endeavor, it’s not IMG_6278uncommon to become an automated machine with “donate, trash, sell, or giveaway” the words of the day. Dismantling a home of many years can become a chore to endure and rarely do we utter the word “keep.” In sorting through my mother’s belongings after she passed away, I chose to keep several of her decorative teacups, a ceramic cat, a ’60’s “lady” vase, a few knickknacks and even her spurs. While in no way diminishing the sentimental value of these items, I’ve come to realize they IMG_6279 (1)simply can’t offer the same intrinsic experience as an article of clothing. No way can I cuddle with a spur! Saving an item of Mom’s clothing was the furthest thing from my mind during those disquieting days. I was all about tidying up and moving stuff out. It has taken time and distance for me to recognize what I will call the “power of softness” and what it would have meant to me to have one of my mom’s old sweaters or even her bathrobe.

As a daughter, if you find yourself in the position of sorting through parents’ belongings, may I suggest stopping long enough to save something soft? Fold it up and tuck it away. Grieving happens in stages. It comes and goes. You may not even think about or touch this precious garment again for quite a while. If, however, somewhere down the road, like me, you experience this longing for your loved one, that “softness” might become a cherished treasure, more special than you ever imagined.

I miss you, Mom.

12 thoughts on “The Power of Softness

  1. I love this idea which is both simple and effective – my mum is still with us, still recognises all her family members etc, but part of the personality change associated with her dementia means that she no longer enjoyes cuddling her children or grandchildren and shies away from even a brief hug. This is quite hard to reconcile with the tactile demonstative person she used to be.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. Oh, yes! Isn’t it especially difficult when the affected person looks the same on the outside, but is changing so much on the inside? Extending my sincere sympathies…

  2. That was so poignant. Vicki, when Dad passed away, I was helping mom go thru some of his clothes. He had a gray sweater (pullover) that he loved. I didn’t know why, but I had to have that sweater. Even though it was a bit big on me, I wore that sweater until it literally fell apart. As in your story, I just found it so comforting to me whenever I wore it. Even today I reach for it and am reminded that I don’t have it anymore nor him. I am forever thankful for having it as long as I did. Miss both him and mom immensely.

    1. Oh Fran, your comment brings tears to my eyes! As a matter of fact, I think I remember seeing him in that grey sweater. I’m so pleased to hear you had it for a few more years. Grieving is definitely done in stages. How I wish I’d saved something like that from Mom! Been missing her…thank you for taking the time to share that story with me.

  3. My mom has be gone over 19 years..There is a robe that she wore that is still in the house
    when I go there I put it on and I feel my mother’s love.. Her softness..Thanks for expressing this…

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