My Last Week Of White

Sporting my pants from DB Designs in Roaring Gap.

I bought a pair of “good white pants” this spring at DB Designs in Roaring Gap.  Over the summer I dribbled blueberry juice in my lap, splashed an entire iced tea down my leg and everywhere else, (no longer welcome in the Atlanta Bread Company Smyrna location) and smeared my butt with road dirt while the trunk door was open. They are great pants and did not disappoint. Each assault on their whiteness came clean in the wash.

Mary’s Mermaids showing off our whites! L-R Ginger, Vicki Maynor, Sandy Sutherland, Mary Mellis

 

 

With Charlie Lovett at Bookmarks in Winston-Salem. I later dropped raspberry vinaigrette just short of the napkin and onto the leg of these pants.

My reputation as a spiller went on but I was undaunted. Unless it was raining or tragically gloomy outside, I wore those, (or other) white pants all summer to take full advantage of the short period between Memorial Day and Labor Day during which the whitest of whites is seen as appropriate attire…at least in the world where I was raised.

It may sound silly, but I really like the constraints of limited wearing time between the two holidays. It’s “seasonal” just like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. You wouldn’t wear a pumpkin embellished shirt in May, would you? Or, maybe you would, and therefore fall into the, “I’ll wear what I want, when I want” school of thought.

 

With Tyler Wilmoth at the Elkin Library. This is when I rubbed my white-panted backside on the car fender while fetching posters from the trunk.

But for me, I’ll go white for three months, and promptly switch back to khakis and black tights on the first Monday in September, for fear of hearing Mother’s words in my head. That exasperated tone I remember so well,  stripped of all hope she would ever get the daughter she wanted or expected after all her hard work in the child-rearing department.

I wear white as she would have wanted me to, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I do it out of respect for her attempts to turn me into a proper lady. And while I do, I’ll work to grant myself forgiveness for all the years I exhibited those same maternal behaviors.

 

From the big box of endless pictures.

 

1952 – Topless in Toledo! Can’t believe I found this picture. Can’t believe my mother let me out without a top. I don’t remember my friend, (on the left) but I do believe I was showing a greater degree of modesty!

1950 – Wearing white and practicing my public speaking.

Fifty years ago I said yes.

On July 29, 1967, I said yes to marriage at 19 hoping it would change my life, not realizing the immediate change from Miss to Mrs. was only the beginning. Fifteen months after that wedding day Laura was born. 

By then I could predict the future of my marriage but hoped fatherhood would bring him around. Four years later I put Laura in the back seat of my Dodge Dart and headed down Route 23 from Detroit back to Huntington, WV. I had my child, our clothes, the sewing machine, my sanity, and her future. We sang “Take Me Home Country Roads” with John Denver while I drove.

Laura was beside me as I searched to find a way in the world.

Many times I’ve been a good example.

Other times I’ve been a dire warning. 

In her current situation Laura is leading the way. It’s the way of a single woman with a good job in a good company with good insurance. Even with all this goodness, her upcoming surgeries require a level of planning and organization that rivals a mid-sized home improvement project. Advanced paperwork, filing with specific providers, getting on the schedule with doctors and facilities. She is building her list of resources, learning what to expect, and working to make the process easier, mentally and physically. I have become her research assistant.

Today is my day to do research on reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy.  I’ve watched a UCLA webinar led by Laura’s surgeon, and learned about implants, “flaps” and what determines whether an immediate or delayed reconstruction is the best route. The webinar was led by one of the doctors referred to handle her case. Access to this information helps me be a better support person, and eases my motherly mind. I’m miles away but can connect with her caregivers through the UCLA site. Comfort.

I feel fortunate that she has included me as she searches to find a way through the cancer treatment maze. I’m finding my place and am glad to be seen as an asset and not a liability.  As a single, working mom, Laura fell into the latchkey category during many of her school years. Now I have the chance to do the things a “stay-at-home” mom could do. Feels good.

Daughter beside me

then

Mother beside her

now

The Mother & Child Reunion Is Only a Motion Away

Someone told me once that you have two chances at a mother-daughter relationship. Once as child, and again as a parent. Being a parent wasn’t something I planned when I got married at 19. I wanted a few years as a couple before we ventured into parenthood. But the “rhythm method” failed me after six months of marriage, and one month before my 21st birthday Laura was born. I think of this now as the date of her conception comes around. January 8th. Yes, I remember the date. Vividly.

Over the years I worked to be the kind of mother I would have wanted for myself…to give my daughter what I had needed while growing up. That plan had merit, but I didn’t really connect until I understood what kind of mother Laura wanted and needed.

At Ofelia’s on Main spreading our Christmas spirit.

We are at that place now. A place where I offer input and advice when asked, understanding that I only have the answers to my problems. I can tell her how I would handle a situation, but her solution has to be hers. We are also at a place where we can talk as two women…about careers, about friendship, about our lives in the future.

It’s a tread gently journey, but so well worth the trip.