When I was little I loved to sit on the floor in front of my mother’s china cabinet and look at her teacups. One day she apparently said to me, “someday when you are older, those will be yours.” To which I replied, “can I have your washer and tide too?”.

This morning I read a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “what you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”.

And isn’t that true? Show me, don’t tell me how you feel and who you are. I watched my mom pull her tiny green wringer washer across the floor every Saturday morning to do the family wash, an incredibly small vessel to wash a week’s worth of clothes for a family of 4, which means she had to perform the process more than once. We didn’t have a dryer which meant she hung them on the line in all sorts of temperatures as well. But it was a labour of love for her and through that Saturday morning ritual, I learned the value in taking care of the people you love, not just on Saturday mornings, but everyday of the week.

I also remember the night Patrick and I got engaged. It was on the way to a Seagull Pewter Christmas party. He had bought me a promise ring with the idea we would marry in two years, but it quickly became an engagement ring after his father chided him with “two years is a long time”. We had been seeing each other almost one year and we were married that June.

Who knew I would have Felix Gauthier to thank for an extra long life with my beautiful husband? Talk about divine intervention.

During funeral arrangements, I asked for Pat’s ring and when I finally had time to go through his personal effects I found the ring but was sure it was not his! I panicked until I looked more closely. It was his but years of wear and never taking it off , even during various construction jobs, had made it less smooth and shiny. And at that moment I cried for the person who had worn it. I also made a decision to always have it attached to my wedding ring and promise ring, taking it to the jeweler to have the three pieces soldered together.

Symbols. Representations of people and therefore memories not forgotten. I love wearing or recreating representations of people and places. Symbol and theme are the two literary devices I enjoy exploring the most with my English students. Because it is my belief if you explore your own symbols from your life you see the recurring themes.

I enjoy aspects of the Catholic worship that deal with symbol and ritual as well. Their many saints too are of great fascination to me and I am not above calling on a few in times of need. Saint Jude is my favorite, the saint of desperate cases, and I would love to have his medal to wear as a comfort and reminder of my vulnerabilities that give me the courage to live. I have faith in a person like Saint Jude who never gives up on those of us who lose focus sometimes and need him to lean on without judgement.

The world of hooking feeds my symbol exploration. Recently I have come to know the work of Meryl Cook, rug hooker, former therapist, and breast cancer survivor. She believes in color symbolism, specifically Chakra Colour, and I am looking into this as I heal and hook. It’s funny, not long ago I said to a friend and neighbor that purple is becoming my new color, this after I had just added a beautiful violet bracelet to my collection of things meaningful. Turns out the violet chakra is associated with your head and knowledge and being a part of something much bigger and beyond oneself. I would like to think I am moving in that direction after a year of total grief immersion.

I am reminded of a few lines belonging to Emily Dickinson as I close this piece and think about the next rug I want to put in for the fall. She wrote, I believe comically, to a friend after a move, and the loss of at least one pair of shoes that, “I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” And that’s kind of how I feel a lot of the time lately. And I say that not with sadness but perhaps with a bit of winsomeness as I collect the words and objects and memories that mean the most to me.

Until next time,

Melissa xoxo

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