Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Clothed Body and Soul
I gather the velour infant sleeper , the little red fleece hoodie, the small Canucks hockey jersey, and the brown Carhart overalls that my oldest grandson, D, loved so much and insisted on wearing until the straps literally dug into his shoulders. All are outgrown now. They contain memories as palpable as the fabric between my fingers as I fold them neatly. Each recalls a time-woven tapestry of the three years when two of our grandsons lived with us.
I remember buying baby M that orange sleeper with the man-in-the-moon decal over his heart during that first harried week as we frantically readied a room for the boys. It speaks to me of those early days after they had arrived beautiful, beguiling and a little bewildered, at three and half years and six months old. I took this picture of him wearing them, sweetly sleeping in the borrowed crib Gem had scrubbed, in the bedroom where the sky-blue paint still smelled new and looked unfamiliar. How full my heart was that first night five years ago.
I remember the joy on D's face when he chose the little hockey jersey, how he clutched it to his chest, his face beaming. My fingers linger over the small red hoodie, and I joyously recall M, at age 14 months, lying on the grass at our summer cottage kicking his legs in beatific delight.
Parting with my children's outgrown clothing is a ritual which has always given me bittersweet pangs. Over the years, some I have given away, some I have donated to a women’s transition house where sometimes mothers and little ones show up in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Yet others, I can’t let go; the first tiny pink dress purchased by her Daddy for our daughter Sarah-Beth when she was born, The cub scout shirt with its rows of badges so proudly earned by my eldest son, Nicholas. The penguin sweatshirt belonging to my younger son, Joshua, which he loved into faded shabiness. He wore it until the opening would no longer stretch over his head and the sleeves were only a little past his elbows. I remember his words when he solemnly accepted the fact that he just couldn't wear it again, "He was a good penguin, wasn't he, Mummy?"
All these items are imbued with the souls of my children. I place them back into my memory box, adding to them the few items now outgrown by my grandsons. The freshness, sweetness and fragility of their history reach down to the very marrow of my bones. They are strewn with the songs of yesterday; tunes of dawning faith and promise and unblemished hope. They still possess the power to both nourish and elate.