Happy Mother’s Day

Dear Mama,

Shirley Carson Ray

Well, it’s been nearly five years now since we could talk in person….for the longest time I kept wanting to pick up the phone to talk to you. I’m lucky to be living in the ballet school, where a large part of you still lives. People say, ‘you have a ballet school?’ ‘Well, it used to be my mother’s ballet school,’ I say, ‘but now it’s been re-converted into a beautiful Queen Anne home.’

And here you are, in the marks on the wooden floor where you kept time with the umbrella. Every time I enter the twin bedroom I still see your desk in the corner, with the dial telephone. For the longest time I kept wanting to enter the bathroom from the studio, or rather living room, instead of from the side where the door now is.

This business would be hard for you. No being close to people. The future so uncertain. And no teaching ballet, a complete and total shut down of your world. You wouldn’t worry about getting sick, I know that, but you would worry about other people, about Sabrina working too much and Winston and Devin not working at all. You’d agonize about the food bank lines and write out checks to help out.

And you would definitely fret about toilet paper. Did you laugh the other day when I snagged two boxes of Cottonelle on Amazon?

Somehow you’ve still found a way to help out. There’s no elastic anywhere in the world for Ariel to make masks, but there in your sewing box was pink and black elastic…just the right width for ballet shoes. Looking in the shed and the linen closet for fabric I got distracted. Of course I did. There on the banker boxes is your pretty handwriting, with the big swooping capital letters. I especially liked the box that said, “the flannel blanket I made to bring the babies home from the hospital. My baby quilt. Clothes made by Grandma, some new.”

The flannel blanket is so pretty and soft, the tight embroidery floss still bright on the cute little teddy bear figures. Had to force myself back to the mission. Finally found the fabric stash right where you left it, on the bottom shelf atop a huge pile of leotards.  It was a little late by the time I found it but I wanted to share right away so asked Ariel if I could come over to show her something.

“Can we FaceTime?”

“Too special, it needs to be in person.”

I got that from you, I think, the desire to share in person, with people, to create unforgettable experiences. Once when you were taking care of Jessamyn when she was little you kept her awake too late playing “theater” because YOU were having such a good time. When I was pregnant with Jessamyn I waited to tell you so I could do it in person. No iPhones yet then to prove it with, but you really did jump up and down.

Thank you, Mama, for the fabric and the elastic and for so much more.

Love, Karen

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3 Responses to Happy Mother’s Day

  1. Audrey says:

    What a lovely piece about your “mama.” Hard for me to believe it has been 5 years–I miss her, too, and her unquestioning inclusiveness with me for the family holidays. Those are precious memories.

  2. This is absolutley beautiful, Karen, thank you! It brought back a flood of memories. Happy Mother’s Day.

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