I adore the infinite threads of silk, wool, embroidery in scarves. I have collected them most of my adult life: Pashminas from Tom's annual trips to Chennai; wool blends from fifteen years traveling back and forth to China for my own consulting work; delicate crepes occasionally indulged upon; gifts from friends who share the same obsession for these elegant neck warmers. But the connection goes much further back to my early childhood when we would spend New Year's Eve at my Aunt Lorraine's. Her buffet was lined with what seemed hundreds of them in a rainbow of colors and textures. They would become headbands or halter tops, sarongs before we knew the concept, hair wraps, as Sue and I played Ms. America, awaiting our Uncle Artie's return well after midnight from the festivities again at my parents' when he served as final judge crowning the one of us the evening's winner.
Lorraine seemed to always be the perpetual babysitter whenever called upon by my folks. Single and alone, she was easy prey. But to us she was the master entertainer and we relished any time she carved out for us, crafting animals in pancake batter with a spoon, no fancy molds back then, devoured in delight at dinner, before breakfast-all-day became ubiquitous as it is today.
We crafted forts and tents in her living room. She never seemed to worry about the chaos. We drank sparkling cider from grandma's special glasses at midnight feeling glamorous and so grown up when she let us use her blue eye shadow during our dress up shows.
I am always fascinated how like DNA an object has provenience in our psyche long before we recognize the memory or connection. My love of this simple garment is a link to my childhood and to my great Aunt who infused our youth with laughter and games. I haven't thought of Lorraine so fondly in my recent past. Her estrangement from Mom, her sister, hurt me deeply when the Alzheimer's took Mom's memory and character. I would compartmentalize my feelings into two categories allowing myself to love Lorraine from my childhood but to segregate her from my life as an adult. Seasoned myself with my own battle scars, I can forgive such lapses. Today on the eve of a new year, and more significantly, a new decade, I can love her as a whole person. I will smile more sweetly knowing that each time I search my own dresser seeking the perfect color and fabric she is touching my hand and reaching across time and space.
Do you have a special object that connects you with a loved one? Today on this day of annual remembrance might you also share your story?