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handkerchief with initial h

Handkerchief for Memory

The last time I was at Carnegie Antiques I flipped through the pile of handkerchiefs, all different, handmade, store-bought, flowered, embroidered, lace trims, a typical pile of hankies from years past.

I found this one in the pile and recognized the letter “H”, my mother’s first initial. My mother could be difficult to fit with gifts and was often awkward at accepting, but whenever I found a small thing with her initial, mugs, small handbags, shirts, tablets, whatever, I just bought it and gave it to her. She was always pleased with these things and kept them, and it was a quietly happy part of our relationship. They are all long gone now from regular use and from selling her house and its contents.

Even though she died last month I still had the urge to buy this. I initially decided not to—what would I do with it? I have no one to give it to. I am a habitual collector of small things that I then never give up and years ago I cleaned it all out and donated it and can now enjoy looking at something I would formerly have purchased, then let it go, finding I don’t really need it after all.

But I thought about this little handkerchief, such a nicely done pattern of flowers in some of my mother’s favorite colors, and an unusually-shaped letter. I decided that I could continue this little tradition, even if I only keep the handkerchief and other things myself. Perhaps if I collect a number of things, someday I’ll find another daughter who can use a collection of things with her mother’s initial. For now, I have space for this. When I look at it, I think of my mother. That’s enough purpose for me.


8 responses

  1. Amy Licciardello


    I purchased a box of your greeting cards, “My Home Town”, and have given several out already. I came to your website today to see if you would permit me to post a copy of your painting “Pear trees on Main Street” on my blog for 7 weeks. Having the blog is part of an assignment for my Political Writing class at Chatham Univ. The subject is the Main Street Movement that is currently happening as people support legislators attempting to stop the erosion of the middle class. When I came across this particular photo on your website and read your entry I was particularly moved. My Mother and I are now very close and I can’t imagine your loss.
    With sympathy,

    February 25, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    • Amy, how sweet of you to tell me. I find that people are often hesitant to share their feelings of loss for many, many reasons but I want to set a positive example for people who have important stories to tell. That also helps people like you who, many years from now, will endure the same loss to prepare slowly for when that time may come.

      I’m glad to hear you’ve been enjoying my cards, and I’d love to know that my favorite painting of Main Street is supporting a movement I’m actually a part of here in Carnegie. With attribution and a link you can use it as long as you need to: As my copy says on that page, it carries memories of not only the present day, but also from days of my childhood when Carnegie was an original and thriving Main Street community. The show from which the art on my cards originates, “Carnegie Painted”, is also a part of our Main Street movement.

      Send me a link, and good luck with your assignment.

      February 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm

  2. Sherry Black

    She had one cat, Princess, who went to live with one of mom’s sisters, just a few blocks away. If you look at my wall photos, there is one photo of Princess. She is about 18yrs old now.

    February 21, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    • I found her, and what a lovely family you have! All those longhairs, and at the moment I don’t have any.

      February 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      • Sherry Black

        I have to admit…I am a wee bit partial to longhaired cats!

        February 21, 2011 at 8:21 pm

  3. Sherry Black

    I enjoyed reading this very much. I lost my mom in October of 2008. And every time that I am out looking at antiques and collectibles,I always see something that I know she would like. Sometimes I actually have the object in my hand, heading to the register, and then it hits me that she is gone. The wierd thing is…I live in her house. She left it to me and all of it’s contents. I am surrounded by her things, and yet, I still have that urge. Mom and I were both collectors, her favorite thing was blue carnival glass and mine is the colorful refrigerator dishes. She also like antique furniture. I still have most everything but have sold a few items, the house was a little cluttered when I moved in. She died suddenly, and when I moved in I also had a lot of stuff. Isn’t it amazing, how, something as small as a handkerchief, can trigger such wonderful memories?

    February 21, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    • Sherry, my mother and I had a somewhat uneasy relationship, and just this little memory is so meaningful, bringing back something happy instead of something uncomfortable.

      Since you lost your mom so unexpectedly, I’m glad you got her house and stuff. That way, you can take your time working through the memories.

      February 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    • P.S. Sherry, I didn’t realize you were living in your mom’s house with her things. Was she a catwoman too?

      February 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm

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