Yellow

Had to share this.
It’s from my good friend Yvonne . . .
Wish I could take credit for it

~m

The yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large pockets trimmed in black thread and snaps up the front. It was faded from years of wear, but still in decent shape when I found it in 1963, home from college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags
of clothes Mom intended to give away.

“You’re not taking that old thing, are you?” Mom said when she saw me packing the yellow shirt.
“I wore that when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!”

“It’s just the thing to wear over my clothes during art class, Mom. Thanks!”

I slipped it into my suitcase before she could object.
The yellow shirt be came a part of my college wardrobe. I loved it.
After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved into my new apartment
and on Saturday mornings when I cleaned.

The next year, I married.
When I became pregnant, I wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days.
I missed Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in Colorado and they were in Illinois.
But that shirt helped.
I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it when she was pregnant, 15 years earlier.

That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in holiday paper and sent it to Mom.
When Mom wrote to thank me for her “real” gifts, she said the yellow shirt was lovely. She never mentioned it again.

The next year, my husband, daughter and I stopped at Mom and Dad’s to pick up some
furniture.
Days later, when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed something yellow taped to its bottom. The shirt!

And so the pattern was set.

On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt under Mom and Dad’s mattress. I don’t know how long it took for her to find it, but almost two years passed before I discovered it under the base of our living-room floor lamp. The yellow shirt was just what I needed now while refinishing furniture. The walnut stains added character.

In 1975 my husband and I divorced.
With my three children, I prepared to move back to Illinois. As I packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I could make it on my own. I wondered if I would find a job. I paged through the Bible, looking for comfort.
In Ephesians, I read, “So use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you will be standing up.”

I tried to picture myself wearing God’s armor, but all I saw was the stained yellow shirt. Slowly, it dawned on me.
Wasn’t my mother’s love a piece of God’s armor?
My courage was renewed.

Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the shirt back to my mother the next time I visited her.
I tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer.

Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio station. A year later I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a rag bag in my cleaning closet. Something new had been added. Embroidered in bright green a cross the breast pocket were the words
“I BELONG TO PAT.”
Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters.
Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, “I BELONG TO PAT’S MOTHER.”
But I didn’t stop there.
I zigzagged all the frayed seams and then had a friend mail the shirt in a fancy box to Mom from Arlington, VA.
We enclosed an official looking letter from “The Institute for the
Destitute,” announcing that she was the recipient of an award for good deeds.
I would have given anything to see Mom’s face when she opened the box.
But, of course, she never mentioned it.!

Two years later, in 1978, I remarried. The day of our wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend’s garage to avoid practical jokers. After the wedding, while my husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for a pillow in the car to rest my head.
It felt lumpy. I unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper, the yellow shirt. Inside a pocket was a note: “Read John 14:27-29. I love you both, Mother.”

That night I paged through the Bible in a hotel room and found the verses:
“I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do, you will believe in me.”

The shirt was Mother’s final gift. She had known for three months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig’s disease. Mother died the following year at age 57.

I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to her grave. But I’m glad I didn’t, because it is a vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I played for 16 years.
Besides, my older daughter is in college now, majoring in art.
And every art student needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets . . .

12 thoughts on “Yellow

  1. Ah, that’s an amazing story. Made me all goosepimply.

    It got to me as well.
    I felt the need to post it here.
    Thanks for reading it, Red
    ~m

    Like

  2. Ok, this made me cry. What a wonderful story!
    And as I was reading it, MM’s Aint No Mountain High Enough was playing on the radio.
    so appropriate
    Thank you both!!

    Ah, a serendipitous moment. Love it
    ~m

    Like

  3. m squared: i am so glad you shared this!

    yes, my goosebumps had goosebumps when i read it. a profound stirring of the soul.

    the bible verse reminds me of the benediction i have heard for so many years in every congregational church i have ever attended:

    may the peace WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING be with you….until we meet again.

    love & peace,
    whyvonne

    A stirring of the soul is right.
    I love stories such as this one and thank you for passing it on.
    ~m

    Like

  4. Just a beautiful story, so glad I stumbled on it. Thanks for taking time to put it here, and to your friend Yvonne for writing it. Sentiment over certain objects is not just sentiment, but the stirring of the connections between people that matter to us, that give us love and hope and belonging.


    The human condition matters to all of us. Absolutely.
    Especially when the story gets to the heart of the matter.
    I thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment.
    Stop back again.
    best,
    ~m

    Like

  5. Well you know I’m bawling.

    Awwww, Carn.
    Maybe I should put up a link for some tissues with posts like this.
    Next time I’ll just tell you to get some Kleenex, you’re going to need it.
    Thanks for reading, C
    ~m

    Like

  6. That was a really great story. I think I will hide my lucky drawers at my father’s house.

    And you’ll probably have to change the name of the post to “Brown” 😉
    ~m

    Like

  7. This email has been around, but it gets me everytime. Thanks for spreading the good ones. 🙂

    It’s just the way I roll, Lynn 😉
    ~m

    Like

  8. Okay, this is one I’m sending to both my boys who live away from home and have for years now. They’re grown men (scoffing at the word men) ages 27 and 29 but they’re very sentimental and love their mom alot. I’ve stolen some of their flannel shirts along the way – hm, there is a pale blue soft flannel shirt….I should send it back to my youngest.

    Thanks so much.

    ~ RS ~

    Nice that you have that connection with the boys.
    And yes, they can be sentimental even as grown men.
    Look at me 😉
    Glad you liked this enough to pass it on. These days we need more stories such as this one.
    Thanks, RS
    ~m

    Like

  9. “The shirt was Mother’s final gift.”

    That line was the one that got me. It hurts, and yet is a beautiful gift.

    There were so many things about this story that “got” me.
    ~m

    Like

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