There’s a quote by author, Ray Bradbury, that has always resonated with me. “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched, some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”
When my mom, a gifted artist, passed away in 2013, I carried home her supplies with no expectation of when or if they might ever be used again. In my grief, it simply made me feel better to see those well-worn brushes standing at hopeful attention in her favorite coffee mug, along with boxes of paints, fabric, and canvases.
Finally picking up one of her brushes in 2016, I focused on flowers, one of her favorite subjects, as well. Suspending judgment, I simply allowed myself to see what developed, and with each piece I came to understand more deeply how every creative act we engage in holds seeds of joy, and the power to help us heal.
Fast forward to now. Like me, my favorite jeans have begun showing signs of wear. Despite being tattered and frayed, though, they’re far too comfortable to toss aside. Instead, I’ve begun reinforcing the weak spots with leftover silk scraps from my mother’s batik paintings. Odd shapes, sizes and colors, one patch even contains her signature. My stitches are mismatched and irregular, but no matter.
Ray Bradbury had it right. I smile more now while wearing these crazy patchworked jeans, just knowing the story those slivers of fabric can tell – one of comfort, connection, and honoring my mom’s beautiful spirit.