Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who Who

Well I was hoping by now that I had a picture of a little blue owl that left my house on Saturday so I could show you. He is not very big and will fit in the palm of your hand. I have no idea how he got to my house ,(I even made phone calls to ask my friend that had just spent a night here) but after he got here I remembered an e-mail I read years ago and thought this owl might be used in a little fun for the girls. For now he can be passed between me and Amber until Crickette gets her own place. The funny part was that I was walking all over Amber's house after we got there so I could find a home for him. I did notice that Amber had not hung a picture I gave her birthday and ask her about it. She yelled "I told you Steven that she ask about it!". Oops... but she said she needed to patch the nail holes before she hung it up. Next trip :-)

After we left Amber's house on Saturday night I got a call from her asking if I left an owl at the house. My response - "What?". She ask did I leave some kind of voodo owl at the house and something about it making her either not have babies or make them, I can't remember, I was trying too hard not to laugh out loud. She said she remembered dusting her chest of drawers and that owl was simply just not there. I admitted to putting him there and shared a little about the e-mail that I had read years ago. So now I am sharing with all of you (and Amber) so now that little owl will take on a whole new meaning to her and maybe even inspire some of you to start a little tradition. Have fun and get the tissue out, it may touch you.


The baggy yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed in black thread and snaps up the front. It was faded from years of wear but still in decent shape. I found it in 1963 when I was home from college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags of clothes Mom intended to give away. "You're not taking that old thing, are you?" Mom said when she saw me packing the yellow shirt. "I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!"

"It's just the thing to wear over my clothes during art class, Mom. Thanks!" I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object. The yellow shirt became a part of my college wardrobe. I loved it. After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment and on Saturday mornings when I cleaned.

The next year, I married. When I became pregnant, I wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days. I missed Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois. But that shirt helped. I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant, 15 years earlier. That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in holiday paper and sent it to Mom. When Mom wrote to thank me for her "real" gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely. She never mentioned it again.

The next year, my husband, daughter and I stopped at Mom and Dad's to pick up some furniture. Days later, when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom. The shirt!

And so the pattern was set.

On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt under Mom and Dad's mattress. I don't know how long it took for her to find it, but almost two years passed before I discovered it under the base of our living-room floor lamp. The yellow shirt was just what I needed now while refinishing furniture. The walnut stains added character.

In 1975 my husband and I divorced. With my three children, I prepared to move back to Illinois. As I packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I could make it on my own. I wondered if I would find a job. I paged through the Bible, looking for comfort. In Ephesians, I read, "So use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up."

I tried to picture myself wearing God's armor, but all I saw was the stained yellow shirt. Slowly, it dawned on me. Wasn't my mother's love a piece of God's armor? My courage was renewed.

Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the shirt back to Mother. The next time I visited her, I tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer.

Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio station. A year later I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet. Something new had been added. Embroidered in bright green across the breast pocket were the words "I BELONG TO PAT."

Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters. Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, "I BELONG TO PAT'S MOTHER." But I didn't stop there. I zig-zagged all the frayed seams, then had a friend mail the shirt in a fancy box to Mom from Arlington, VA. We enclosed an official looking letter from "The Institute for the Destitute," announcing that she was the recipient of an award for good deeds. I would have given anything to see Mom's face when she opened the box. But, of course, she never mentioned it.

Two years later, in 1978, I remarried. The day of our wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend's garage to avoid practical jokers. After the wedding, while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for a pillow in the car to rest my head. It felt lumpy. I unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper, the yellow shirt. Inside a pocket was a note: "Read John 14:27-29. I love you both, Mother."

That night I paged through the Bible in a hotel room and found the verses: "I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me."
The shirt was Mother's final gift. She had known for three months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig's disease. Mother died the following year at age 57.

I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave. But I'm glad I didn't, because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I played for 16 years. Besides, my older daughter is in college now, majoring in art. And every art student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets.

So with that I left my little owl who flew into my home with Amber. I know that after a visit I will find him (please don't put it under something - you know I won't find him). And when Crickette gets her own place we can share him with her. This can be so much fun and I would have loved to have done something like this with my mother.

I hope you have a wonderful day, and if this brings back memories of your mom today, treasure them! Smile and be refreshed today!


  1. It was such a pleasant surprise and I can't wait to share this with you over the upcoming years.

    Sorry I didn't send you a pic - I didn't get the messages till this morning!

  2. What a great idea! I've never heard this, but what a great tradition to begin. I have some creeeeeepy owls in my secretary at home if you ever want another. haha... Very sweet!

  3. WOW! I got goosebumps reading that...I want to start something like this between my sisters and mom and I. Right now my oldest sister adn my mom pass back and forth this hideous cermaci bunny and it shows up everywhere from in the fridge to hidden in a plant in the living room!!