That’s a photo of my parents, taken in San Francisco, at a convention dinner that September.
The spring before, Mom shopped for the fabrics she needed to sew her San Fran wardrobe; over spring and summer she sewed for the occasions the convention called for.
The dress shes’s wearing in the photo, is made from an ombre-dyed paisley print on cotton voile that went from pale pink at the neck to a vibrant rose/magenta at the knee.
It was a stunning dress and she looked stunning in it.
Mom was an accomplished sewist, with an eye for gorgeous textiles, and she was a thoughtful designer. She stored her fabrics with care in a closet on the second floor.
When I was five, I discovered her stash and was never the same: classic voiles and taffetas and dotted Swiss, brocades, peau-de-soie, and bouclés, rayon velvets, and herringbone and houndstooth and tweed.
And I’d stand in there — amazed — and run my hand, s l o w l y, over those textures.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that closet was more than space to store fabric; it was deliberate space she staked out and claimed for herself.
I see it now as sacred space, sanctuary for preserving parts of herself that threatened to get lost (dare I say it!) in “motherhood”. She knew who she was and what was important. Her gifts were not entombed in the closet, but willingly revealed and shared.
Mom died over 30 years ago. I still wonder what life might’ve been like if she’d been alive all those years, instead.
Wherever you are, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers reading this. I’m sending virtual hugs all around. So grateful for you, friends, and I hope you all are well.
Header photo credit: Anonymous convention photographer, circa 1970