Mothers are known to carry treasures in their purses. You know, Kleenex, Band-Aids, chewing gum, cough drops, extra pens, spare change, blank paper, etc. Kind of like ‘standard issue’ goods necessary for motherhood. And my mom had the same contents on her person for three generations. Now, that is a lot of ‘mom-stuff’!
But her inventory did not stop at the bottom of her purse. Nope…even her coat pockets were lined with essentials. Every coat or jacket held tissues. Mom was on guard for that drippy nose, errant sneeze, or cleaning grime off a little one’s face with mom spit. So it was fitting that we placed a tissue in her casket. Didn’t want her to “go to glory” unprepared.
So, when I donated her coats to our church’s thrift store, I forgot about them. And then the big sale came and mom’s coats were displayed for purchase. I went by and touched each coat, knowing that every jacket had a story. One had been too tight at the wrists, one had a belt that always slid out of the loops—aggravating her—-and the other one looked like a teen should be wearing it during the eighties, with big hair and attitude. It was her favorite. Not mine. But I never said a word.
As I looked at each coat, missing the woman whose shoulders and arms filled the fabric, my hand slid down to the pockets. I knew what I would find, and I was not disappointed. In each and every pocket was a tissue. Folded and ready for duty. I pulled out each tissue and held it as if it were a holy thing, because in my mind and heart it was. I knew the smooth, arthritic hands that had placed them in the pockets and I felt as if I were holding the hands of my mother.
It was an odd but knowing connection, yet seemed so appropriate. ‘Tissue’ in the human sense is connective, keeping our cellular selves intact. And so that day, I pondered the Kleenexes that lined the pockets of my mother’s coats and marveled at how such a simple act affirmed the person that she was: predictable, loving, and ready to serve. And eager to send a small message to her girls that if our tears would fall, she was still ready to catch them.
These were no ordinary tissues, left by an extraordinary mother.