It’s no laughing matter – Yes, Mr. Bailey got a wonderful reel life however, for those of us in the real world, it is more of a thread that some of us hang on to and from, instead of following. I never really stood back and saw this as clearly, as I did on April 17, 2011. That was the day my mother died. I stood in her bedroom that morning, looking as she slept forever against her floral pillowcase, and tried to grasp that her life had ended. Looking at my father’s chest of drawers, which we had brought from her home when she could no longer stay alone, I saw her devotional calendar. If there was one thing she did religiously, right up until she died, it was flipping the page on her calendar before going to bed. Looking at the date on that morning, there was no Christian cheer-up, bible verse or spiritual enlightenment. On the day my mother left, Carole King’s “Tapestry” was lyrically printed, and it could not have summed up her existence any better.
My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
Then I remembered I always wanted to be 14. Most kids have an age that means something 13, 16, 18, 21 all the top favorites associated with some rite of passage. For me however, it was 14 and that year I had a 70’s cool art teacher who played Carole King’s Tapestry album while we worked. It was also the first album I ever bought and wore out, along with the Columbia House cassette tape. In many ways my life was the liner notes, and until mom died, I hadn’t seen the tied off thread on her tapestry – but it was there – waiting.
Tracing family trees has become a new entertainment venue, as well as multi-million dollar industry. Everyone wants to know who they are and where they came from, pulling at every loose end they can uncover. The irony is, it’s not pulling at the ends that will give your soul the answer it is looking for, it is simply following the thread to see how it is woven. The picture you will see isn’t who you are, it is why you are, and unlike the over dramatic and costly searches, the answer is so simple it is usually overlooked. George realized it was rose petals, and Indian Jones knew it was a wooden cup, but the majority of us are looking for the profound moment of realization with Darth Vader as a father, against a galaxy of heavenly stars. Because of that, it is usually missed, and a sleigh ride on Rosebud is never known.
But I know, and like a wonderful family meal, I have been left satisfied with the knowledge and thankful for the stitching. My thread took me to a police officer who my parents liked when I was 16. It then cross stitched into 14 years, 3 daughters and a job that changed my life. I was people smart, not college trained, so when an economic crossroad came for my employer, I was the one cut because I didn’t have an accounting background. Ironic, since you don’t need numbers in life to see how things add up. However it was that people smart, which later connected me to someone I had helped while working in that job, and he gave me a chance. That chance introduced me to a friend of his, which took me to another job, where I met a man who ironically had an accounting background. He was unassuming and gentle, and we eventually tied the knot.
Through that knot, my daughters and I weaved the future we were destined for, one that would never have happened if I had just held onto the rolled up thread in my hands when they were born, not seeing that it needed to be followed. One took her needs and abilities far into nursing, changing lives around her forever, another let life take it’s time until she met an older man, who eventually took her heart, sharing with her a multi-faceted journey and a daughter. The last one, traveled with me out of state, where she met a boy, that later caused a return trip years down the road, where the man of her dreams was waiting, and the eventual love for three boys she would mother. Amazing what a small thread can do.
I won’t lie and say I didn’t have a chance to change things for myself, there were indeed two forks along the rutted road of my tapestry; one was content and pewter and the other sparkling and gold. I could have chosen the pewter one, stayed with the father of my children, ignored the unraveled thread, and accepted life, not hearing the voice in my soul. But if I had, those colorful and connected stitches of life which became my adult daughters, and later their children, would have been very different. I didn’t need a bell to give me wings back then, I knew my journey in this life was for them, and so I kept going. The golden fork was one of those temptations appealing to every selfish human emotion we are born with. However, as the lyrics say, in reaching for something golden, your hand comes down empty, and even though I truly tried to think of a way to make it work, I knew it never would – we all would have turned into toads, and I could never be that self absorbed.
So, today as remember the last smile on my mother’s face, I know she died pleased with her tapestry. It wasn’t stitched in such finery that it could be hung from either side; there were frays of colored thread, and an occasional missing stitch. However, for the most part, it was beautiful, and she lived the part she was meant to. She had never been concerned about where she came from or who she was, because she always knew who she was meant to be, and she did it perfectly, never asking or expecting anything more.
I am thankful for the wisdom that came to me at 14, sharing a room of brilliant creativity, realizing early on, from the music in my soul there was a tapestry I had to stitch. I have felt the earth move, enjoyed being a natural woman, cried in pain hoping I would be loved tomorrow, assured others they had a friend, even when we were so far away. And going where I was led emotionally and spiritually, even when it was way over yonder and made no sense at the time, I always felt beautiful and made sure my daughters knew they could always come home again. In this life like my mother, I knew who I was, and why I was, and that can be framed perfectly on either side of life.