Warning! Some might find this blog depressing. (But I hope you’ll read on, anyway!)
A friend recently shared with me his monthly human-interest column for his local newspaper back East. In it, he discussed the “threads” in the “tapestry” of his life, his late sister’s, and their late mother’s. As I read on, I became more intrigued with his wonderful metaphors and shared ideas. Even more compelling, they truly resonated with me.
So, what did my friend mean by “threads” and “tapestry”? One day while in his garage, his gaze fell upon some of his possessions. He wondered if after he passed, would anyone ever know the string of connections (threads) among some of those objects. Each was a thread woven into the tapestry of his life. Would complete strangers at some imagined future estate sale simply pick through and unwittingly unravel the threads of his tapestry, carting away each of those priceless objects for ten cents on the dollar because his family members didn’t know the meaning the objects had held for him?
He saw this as more than sad. It would be almost tragic if he didn’t find ways to let his loved ones know the stories and interconnected threads of his possessions. If he didn’t share those threads, the tapestry of his life could simply disappear. He decided that maybe his vehicle for sharing would be his column from time to time.
How many of us have had similar thoughts about our own or loved ones’ threads and tapestries? I know I have.
March 24 marks the fifth anniversary of my mother’s passing. I was in charge of the disposition of her estate back in 2016. I remember standing in our family’s house where she had lived for seventy-one years: the living room where my parents married in front of the fireplace; the dining room where they had their wedding reception plus many milestone anniversaries and family dinners; the spare room where my father had died; the house in which I had grown up experiencing all the rights of passage one must endure; where five generations of my family had set foot or lived; and, where we had welcomed droves of annually visiting relatives who envied our living in sunny “Cal-i-for-nye-eh” as we proudly carted them to the beach, the zoo, and Disneyland.
But Mom was gone, and her objects loomed. It helped me preserve her essence by not thinking of her possessions as “stuff,” but by trying to recall the threads in her tapestry–though I didn’t have my friend’s terms in mind at that time. For a few objects, I knew the backstories or interconnections–threads–as to why they were important to her. Like the little cocker spaniel figurine by the fireplace. But for far too many others, I didn’t. Like her collection of inexpensive rings suddenly acquired in the last months of her life, her numerous scarves, and some black-and-white photos of people I didn’t know. All those felt like losses, an unraveling tapestry tumbling piece by piece down into a black abyss. I kicked myself for not having drawn her out to tell more of their stories and interconnections. Chunks of her tapestry vanished right in front of me with every drawer, cupboard, and closet I opened. Minimally, it was heart-wrenching.
My friend’s article and that experience five years ago have prompted me to start writing down the threads of my own tapestry. Perhaps I will begin with the backstories of how I named my stories’ characters, the childhood connections to my imaginary Botanic Hill, and so on. Maybe someday, my great-great-great grandchildren will be glad I left them this legacy. Maybe I will start a tradition and spare my descendants heavy hearts as I had at the family house in 2016.
So, get a clue, Readers. What are the threads in your own tapestry? We all have magnificent stories to tell about them, even if they seem magnificent only to ourselves. But please don’t underestimate their importance or your voice. I hope you’ll find ways to keep your tapestry tightly woven for future generations. Personally, I’m going to try.