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A Lovely Re-gift

Though I know it’s often done, I feel strange about re-gifting any present. I grew up with a mother who appreciated anything she was given. No matter the value. If someone chose it, made it, or purchased it with her in mind, then it was a precious thing to Mother. Which made her precious to everyone else.

She had many lovely pieces of jewelry, but if I shamelessly begged a trinket from Mother’s green and gold jewel box, her price was high. Usually, if my interest was apparent, she’d say, “You can have that when I die.”

Of course, I didn’t want it anymore. “No,” I said. “That’s okay. I’d rather have you.”

She’d smile and pat my cheek. Soon I’d be back to digging through her treasures, listening to the stories behind them: her graduation watch, the pearl necklace brought from Japan by her nephew, and a diamond watch Daddy gave her at Christmas.

One day, Mother held up a lovely bracelet with a pink stone. I remembered it as my grandmother’s – once upon a time. I’d always admired it and knew I’d receive the usual response. Yes, it was for me, after Mother had departed this life. I dared not say a word lest I hear that sad proclamation again. But this day, Mother held out the bracelet. “Try it on, honey. See if it fits.”

Grandma’s lovely, antique bracelet.

A perfect, miracle fit, twinkling on my wrist as if it belonged there. I caught my breath and admired it as before. But this time, Mother told me the story of the bracelet, a little differently than I’d heard before.

“This might be a true antique, honey. It did belong to your grandmother and I believe she received it as a gift from a special beau.” Mother watched my face as I tried to picture Grandma as a young woman. I’d always heard she had more than her share of boyfriends. But why? She wasn’t pretty. Not to me. Maybe she knew a lot of jokes or could sing. Or cook! She had something, but I didn’t know what. She must have been very admired in her youth to warrant such a gift. Though I hated to take it off, I began to wrestle with the clasp.

“Keep it. I think you are old enough to take care of it,” Mother said. “This bracelet has been waiting to surround your wrist for years. Enjoy it.”

I was excited and had lots of questions. I learned the stone was tourmaline, the bracelet’s intricate band made of sterling silver, dipped in gold. First gifted to my grandmother from an unnamed admirer, then given to my mother, and finally, to me.

In this case, I’m all about re-gifting.

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My Personal Pot of Gold

My son, Christopher, was born on St. Patrick’s Day. Eleven years later, he was rushed to heaven, unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, it was enough that I had to live on without his presence. There was no choice. But how I’d miss celebrating his special birthday. Everyone noticed St. Patrick’s Day. Especially me. I couldn’t hide from it.

As his day approached, I recalled Christopher’s favorite cake based on the blockbuster movie, “Jaws.” White cake cut like a big fish, frosted gray, sharp dorsal fin pointing up, and open, red-frosted-mouth lined with candy corn. Plus, le piece de resistance? A borrowed Barbie-doll leg jutting from its jaws. Chris raved about it. Horrifying, yet tasty. I smiled at the weird memory.

What was the plan going forward? Of course, I could have baked him a cake after he was gone. Maybe had a party. But I knew such an action would only break my own heart. So on St. Paddy’s day, I started surprising my daughter Heidi with a lunch out, a movie date, or a special gift. In her brother’s memory.

The years passed and our little celebrations became smaller until our faithful observation shrank to sending one another special St. Patrick’s Day cards to honor Christopher. Heidi often made one for me by hand – a treasure, indeed.

Last year’s darling handmade card from Heidi. I keep & treasure them all.

A few weeks ago, a late Christmas present arrived. A new Nicholas Mosse, TALL mug to add to my tiny collection. Gifted from my daughter and her family. I like to allow things or places or situations to mark something significant. For me, it’s like building an altar in the field…”so I’ll remember.”*

This mug was useful and beautiful and a quality thing to mark both my kids. The green clovers remind me of the St. Patrick’s Day birth of my son, Christopher, heaven bound far too soon. The deep blue flower represents my Heidi’s September birthday. The flower’s bright yellow center? My girl’s sunny disposition, delighting everyone. And edged all around? Hearts to represent Momma love.

A late Christmas gift that serves as a Chris-remembrance all year long. From my Heidi.

All these years Heidi has lovingly kept her big brother’s memory alive on his special St. Patrick’s birthday, remembering him with me so I didn’t have to remember him alone. Now she’s found a way to mention him without saying a word. Every time I take tea in that lovely Nicholas Mosse mug.

I store a secret in my heart. And it’s this: Christopher – my son who lives anew in heaven and Heidi – my daughter living nearby, are my pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. They shine into my life, wherever they reside. And I am doubly blessed.

*Words from “Altar in the Field” by Bob Bennett. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owtYBRIVq14

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Stitching Up a Little Comfort

The most meaningful antique my mother ever owned was an 1800’s Lincoln rocker. First belonging to her great-aunt Nellie, eventually it was inherited by my grandma. For many years, Mother remembered watching her own mom rest and rock in the chair after a day’s hard work. When the sad time came to close up Grandma’s house in Sisters, Oregon, I knew the rocker was about to find a home in California.

Overjoyed to have the treasure at last, Mother and Daddy refreshed the cherry-wood arms and graceful rockers, then recovered the tattered upholstery. Newly dressed in green Damask, with just enough blue sheen to hint there was a peacock in the room, Mother found the rocking chair irresistible.

Except for one thing. Once seated, Mother was too petite for her feet to find the floor unless she rocked forward. Aggressively. But what if she wanted to relax and read? Or sew? Or file her nails? Without her feet dangling mid-air?

After some thought, Mother purchased a little stool-kit. The dark stain went well with the rocker’s cherry-wood color. And even better – there was a needlepoint project in the mix. The cushion cover was stamped with a pattern of roses and leaves. All in Mother’s favorite fall colors of yellow, peach, and green, perfectly enhancing the rocker’s new Damask upholstery. As if waiting for her careful hand to bring the needlepoint bouquet to life.

I’d never known Mother to attempt needlepoint. But she jumped right in, doing precise work. Once finished, she set the stool in front of the beloved Lincoln rocker. Making herself comfortable, Mother arranged her feet on the little stool and smiled the smile of accomplishment. And of comfort.

Nice first try on Needlepoint, Mother!

From that day forward, the stool was always pushed just under the rocker when not in use and pulled out when needed. She used it daily for more years than I can remember; yet the stool still looks charming. A little worn, perhaps. But for me, the wear is a precious reminder of the comfort it gave my dear Mother for so long.

I think I’ll just leave it be and push it back under the old Lincoln rocker – now mine – right where it belongs.

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The Bell Tolls for Mother

All through my growing-up years, my mom displayed her favorite Christmas ornament during the season. T’was a deep red bell with a fancy tassel. Whenever Mother wound it up, it played “Silent Night.” Sweetly. Her most-loved carol chimed out like a lullaby. When she wound up the bell, we heard the tender knock of Christmas on our wreath-hung door.

Many, many Christmases passed and the time came for Mother to move to Assisted Living. I packed up the bell, along with some decorations she enjoyed and decked out her room for the holiday. I knew leaving the bell on her bookshelf was risky. I’d been advised that things disappeared from the guest’s rooms. Often and without explanation. But since I wanted her to have the bell she loved best at Christmastime, I took the chance. And as I’d been warned…it disappeared into never-to-be-found-land. I was heartbroken at the loss. But Mother, who was quite forgetful by then, didn’t miss it. Instead, I missed it for her. 

A couple years ago, my daughter said she wished she had Grandma’s bell and she was sorry it had been lost. Me, too. Of all the decorations from all the Christmas holidays, that bell was the one I wished I’d saved. An idea began to form. Could I replace it? Always ready to tackle a mystery, I researched Mother’s bell. As I did so, I realized what a quality object it was and how many other lesser bells were on the market. I knew Mother’s bell was purchased in the 1950s, made in Germany, and metal – not plastic. Finally, I found a bell on eBay that was very like. Not quite the same red as Mother’s, but a rich red with a wonderful tassel. When wound up, it also played the sweet sounds of “Silent Night.”

The replacement bell that chimes for my mom & my daughter’s grandma. So loved!

Excited, I bid on it, was outbid, increased my offer, and won the bell. I gave it to my daughter as a memory of Mother and of so many family Christmases past. These days, when the new, but vintage bell is wound and “Silent Night” rings out, my daughter is reminded of the gentle Grandma and Mother we both loved so long. And still miss so much.

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Cheerios: Always In Fashion

Once upon a time when I was little more than a tot, my mother sewed me a shiny-new dress for the first day of kindergarten. Made of white, polished cotton, it shone like a pearl and swished when I walked. Mother added delicate lace trim around the neck and sleeves. But my favorite part was the pattern of colorful circles scattered over every inch of fabric. I called it my “Cheerios Dress” because it reminded me of the popular breakfast cereal.

Cheerios & Milk-unsplash

Cheerios in a bowl. Dull, but delicious.

To be sure, Cheerios in a bowl of milk were pale. Listless. Nothing like the multihued, mini-donuts decorating my dress. However, Fruit Loops hadn’t yet been invented. So the Cheerios tag stuck. It became my favorite frock. I wore a crisp, layered slip under the full skirt and parted each layer to make it stand out like a ballerina’s tutu. It rustled as I sashayed from the family’s Ford station wagon up the path to my classroom door. When I plopped on the floor with the other kids, my skirt billowed around me like bloated mushroom. Only prettier.

I paraded around in that dress so often, Mother surprised me with a tiny, twin-edition to fit my doll, matching mine in every detail. Almost. No slip for baby doll. She did score the fashion edge after I found Kelly-green tights to fit her bendable legs. Then pulled red, patent leather shoes onto her feet. How I longed for red shoes, too. But that was beyond the budget. So I luxuriated in the feel of layers of netting under that oh-so-puffy skirt. And dreamed of dancing in the ballet.

Because I still have the doll and her twinny-dress, each glimpse of her reminds me of my first day at kindergarten long ago, wearing the shimmering outfit. The doll’s dress fabric is still crisp and shiny as ever and its texture brings a smile to my heart. In fact, I beam whenever I see a box of Cheerios on the store shelf. Like a secret coupon, it delivers an unexpected bonus to my heart. A reminder of my mother’s love and selfless spirit. And…a balloon-skirted dress worn on the first day of school…once upon a time.

Lady in supermarket holding Cheerios box.

Who knew Cheerios would play such a happy role in my life?

CHEERIOS FUN FACTS:

  • CheeriOats was introduced by General Mills in 1941
  • The name was changed to Cheerios in 1945
  • Jingle: “The toasted oat cereal with Go! (Big G, little o.)”
  • Delighting breakfast eaters for more than 75 years with many variations like:
    • Cinnamon Nut Cheerios
    • Honey Nut Cheerios

EXTRA FUN: Wanna make some Cheerios treats at  home? Enjoy these yummy options from Taste of Home: “12 Genius Ways to Cook With Cheerios

 

 

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A Spot of Tea? Cookies? Or Both?

A vintage Granny Ann teapot has been in my family for seventy-five to eighty years. Purchased new by my Auntie Thelma early in her marriage, it was used kindly over time, sporting nary a chip nor crack. Granny Ann eventually ended up in my cousin Carol’s collection, flirting with me from inside a curio cabinet, year after year.

According to its USA mark and recognizable design, Shawnee Pottery produced my aunt’s Granny Ann teapot during the 1940s. Managed by A.E. Hull Jr., son of the Hull Pottery Company’s owner, Shawnee actively turned out pottery from 1937 through 1961 from its location in Zanesville, Ohio. Of all the Shawnee stock I’d seen, I loved Granny Ann best.

In fact, admired it every time I visited my cousin, though I tried to restrain myself from yanking it out of her curio cabinet. I saw it every year at Carol’s home because she faithfully hosted our annual family reunion on the Oregon coast. Each time I gave that Granny Ann a side-glance, Carol would remind me she planned to pass it my way one day. But she wasn’t ready to give it up. Not yet. I understood.

At the end of last summer’s reunion, as we were saying our goodbyes, Carol signaled me to wait a minute and dashed back into her house. Soon she came out with a cardboard box, tucking it into the back seat of my SUV.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Open it when you get home,” she said.

C.Elliott.Granny Ann Teapot

My adorable Granny Ann Teapot. Or…um…cookie jar?

I had a strong feeling that Granny Ann was my back seat companion, but waited until I arrived home to open the box. Of course, it was the long-loved teapot. Though when she’d mentioned it before in discussion, Carol always called it a cookie jar. Pardon?

When I examined it closely, I noticed the spout was plugged with a tight-fitting cork. A beautiful job, too. It looked like professional work. Now I understood why Carol considered it a cookie jar. Had Shawnee made both a teapot and cookie jar? Though I researched extensively, I couldn’t find another Granny Ann quite like mine.

Did my Auntie Thelma have it plugged long ago? If so, why? Hmm. I smelled a mystery, along with the aroma of imaginary Chocolate Chip cookies.

I contacted my cousin for more history on the Shawnee treasure. All she could tell me was that neither she nor her husband, Auntie Thelma’s son, had added the cork during their time of Granny Ann possession. Yet, they knew it was originally a teapot. An unknown someone had converted it along the way.

That information rang true. No wonder I could not find even one Granny Ann cookie jar. Anywhere. The sketchy facts worked for me. I had more teapots than I needed. But a long-loved, collectible cookie jar?

I knew right where to put it. And what to put IN it. That was no mystery at all.

Cookies & Milk.Image by Musaed subaie>Pixabay

 

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Consider One Word

Am I the only one who lets go of her New Year’s Resolutions before January is history? Not just let go, but sets them free to pester a more disciplined soul somewhere? And slam the door of failure behind them as they leave?

I not only ignored those resolutions, I broke them. All. Eventually I quit making any resolutions when the time came. It continued for some years. Whenever asked if I’d made my New Year’s Resolutions, I smiled and changed the subject.

Until our Quills of Faith Writer’s Group Co-Leader, Kate Barker, brought a new idea to the first meeting of the year in 2017. Instead of that list of resolutions none of us kept, how about trying a new idea that was catching fire. “It works for me because it gives me a focus,” Kate said, now a veteran one-worder. “And then I begin to see how things come together during the year.”C.Elliott-Resolution Words-PixabayAn interesting concept. Just in time, too. I’d had a setback on my writing journey and a special, focus-word could serve as motivation to pull me out of my slump. I decided to give it a go and chose my first word – Forward (for 2017).

In typical, overkill-Cathy-style, I began researching quotes and verses and memes with my word at the heart of each. Soon, I had a ten-page file with colorful pictures and encouraging quotes to flip through. Daily. Or anytime I felt a little crumbly inside. These truths came from many places and many people. They supported my writer recuperation in the best of ways. The repetition of wise thoughts and advice served to replace my nagging self-doubts. Embracing the one word thing worked for me.

The next year, I chose Brave as my word. Again, success. Then last year, I chose Wisdom. Another winner! Focusing on all three words mended my heart (I’m a slow healer) and amended my point of view. Like a compass, they guided my steps and directed me toward the person I long to become.

Treasures from MY One Words.Green

And…no broken resolutions left behind. Nothing to lament. Rather, the commitment to my chosen word was a positive in every way.

The latest cozy mystery I’m writing features some folks who will play an important part in solving the case. They are part of a group referred to as Plain. Introduced to their ways, my non-Plain heroine saw something lovely in their lifestyle. Something restful and pure. So did I. Which made me wonder if my 2020 word was associated with them.

Then I found this beautiful rendition of “Simple Gifts.” A Shaker Hymn written by Joseph Brackett (1797 -1882). Performed by Yo Yo Ma and Alison Krauss. Ahhh….

Naturally, I found synonyms for the words Plain and Simple:

Plain – Minimal, unadorned, unfussy, down-to-earth, unpretentious, homely, pure, homespun, honest.

Simple – Uncomplicated, trouble-free, undemanding, humble, natural, effortless, easy, elegant.

My focus on the gift of simpler living began months ago. Maybe it’s been knocking on my heart for years and I’m finally listening. Recently, I started a board on my Pinterest site titled, “The Bounty of Simple.” You can see where this is going.

So, I searched for a word for 2020 to keep me focused on the beauty of less. On what IS without a lot of excess to make it more. Like a rosy-cheeked child holding her beloved kitty. There’s a story there. An attachment between the two. Adventures untold. Yet the simplicity of this picture made my heart smile and unleashed my imagination.

Simplicity seemed the perfect word for 2020. I’m excited to see where it takes me.

veronika-homchis-Child & Cat-unsplash

 

 

 

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Love In Abundance

As summer comes to a close and we consider school days and fall leaves, our family has one more special occasion. The family reunion – a long-loved tradition.

My folks were raised in Sisters, Oregon, so we had relatives nestled around that area. At first, our reunions were in Central Oregon, beginning at the Wickiup Reservoir, located sixty miles southwest of Bend. My parents were camp hosts there for several summers and able to arrange places for everyone to camp close by. Usually, my immediate family was first. Then, a day or two later, a cousin’s camp trailer arrived. Next, an uncle and aunt pulled in, and so on until each family was tucked into a reserved spot. By the weekend, we were a bustling community.

Daddy always brought his metal fishing boat with its humming Evinrude outboard motor. He took the kids for rides and we all did some fishing out on the lake. Never a good fisher-gal, I once threw in my baited hook on the right side of the boat, getting no bites at all, while my sister-in-law caught fish after fish on the other side.

I loved casting my line, even without success.

I loved casting my line, even without success.

An hour later, she took pity and we switched. I caught zero fish on the left side of the boat while she reeled them in on the side I’d just abandoned. It was a puzzle I never solved. (And possibly the start of my cozy mystery writer career.)

The family reunion meant so much to Mother and Daddy. All anticipation as the date approached, it was a not-to-be-missed event. They eagerly loaded up their camp trailer, checking off needed items. Mother mentally gathered the ingredients for her popular “Beans in Abundance” dish for our feast day.

“Oh, I have to make it,” Mother would say. “It’s always requested. I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”

Sizzling start for Beans in Abundance.

Sizzling start for Beans in Abundance.

If not for my parents and my cousin Bob, the reunion would have receded. But they kept it alive because it was so important to them to follow up with family, wherever they scattered. Not everyone could make it every time, but the reunion went on, year after year. The location changed to a big picnic on the Deschutes River in Bend. Then moved out to Sundance Ranch for a number of years where my folks had a time-share. We stayed in the bunkhouse and played cards into the wee hours. Or sat around the campfire, swapping stories.

This year is our thirtieth reunion year in Bandon-By-The-Sea, on the Oregon Coast. My cousin has made room for us to come and camp in a clearing on her forested property.

Some "invited" visitors drop by for apple quarters, tossed out by the family.

Some “invited” visitors drop by for apple quarters, tossed out by the family.

Now when I think of the reunion, I also remember how we paid tribute to Mother the summer after she changed her address to heaven. Everyone she loved best was due in Bandon, so the family decided to have a goodbye gathering in her honor there, under the pines. My brother gave a sweet eulogy. At the end, my daughter Heidi and I passed out the cookbooks we’d created on Shutterfly, with my mom’s favorite dishes inside. We titled it Cooking By Heart. If only she’d been there to see it! She would have hugged that book close, happy tears trickling down her cheeks.

Mother's Cooking By Heart book, created by my daughter Heidi & me, as a family momento.

Mother’s Cooking By Heart book, created by my daughter Heidi & me, as a family memento.

Afterward, we adjourned to enjoy the usual potluck delicacies. Mother would have been tickled to see a pot of her famous “Beans in Abundance” bubbling on the stove. Cooked by cousin Carol, who continues to make it for our yearly gatherings in her Auntie Evelyn’s honor.

At last, I have my own signature dish, “Chuck Wagon Tortilla Stack.” First tasted at a card party potluck. It was a wow. Now it is my go-to. So easy and so yummy, a young relative called it crack-in-a-pan as she went back for seconds. High praise! (I think.) I plan to make it again for the upcoming reunion. Fingers crossed for more equally enthusiastic, culinary reviews.

Elliott.C.Chuck Wagon Tortilla Stack.RecipeTime has gone by and so much has changed. But still, the constant love of family calls me back to beautiful Bandon each summer. To answer the call of our reunion, an irresistible tug on my heart.

 

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Save Room for Surprises

A fellow antique-collector once told me, “Some antiquers end up with so much wonderful stuff, they have to sell some. And another antique store is born.”

Antique Shop

I shouldn’t even look at anything as I pass. But isn’t that white container with the yellow flowers too adorable? I mean, those slats on the side! Is that an old doll crib? Aww…. (Walk on by, Cathy.)

I believe it. For a while now, I’ve been in danger of needing to open a store. So I’ve tried to cull my collections & get rid of things that no longer speak to me. Or have great meaning. To that end, I’ve purposed NOT to acquire anything more. Nada. Zip. (Etc.)

One day, a friend on Facebook messaged me & asked for my mailing address. She said she wanted to send me something. Thinking it was a card, I gave her the address. But why would she send me a card when she could just message me? So I asked, “What are you sending, by the way?”

SHE: “A box of books on quilting.” After seeing my FB posts, she knew I’d like them.

ME…having a Mayday moment: “No, please! I can’t take them. I’ve recently gotten rid of lots of books – cookbooks & quilt books. I still have no room. So nice of you, but can you give them to someone else?”

She said the box was all labeled & on its way. I could pass them on if I wished.

My inner whiner whimpered. I began to plead.

ME: “What about your local library? Quilt guild? Used book store?”

SHE: “Look for it on Monday.”

ME: “Okay.” Sigh. “Thank you.”

Man w:Box (1)When the box arrived, it wasn’t as sizeable as expected, which was a blessing. But I didn’t open it for a couple weeks. Instead, I worried. Oh, dear. Another bunch of books to find room for, or pass on. Those books needed a home, yes. Just not mine. Then I remembered our local charter school had quilting classes. A plan emerged. I got excited & grabbed my scissors to cut the tape & expose whatever was inside.

The box held only four books. Another blessing. Two were quilting novels by Jennifer Chiaverini – Elm Creek Quilts books. Nice. The other two were even more my style. Pioneer diary type books – one was called A Quilter’s Journal & had entries starting in 1859 through to 1880. My favorite one entitled, The Quilt that Walked to Golden: Women and Quilts in the Mountain West From the Overland Trail to Contemporary Colorado was written by Sandra Dallas, w/Nanette Simonds. That was the book my friend had loved best, too. She’d sent me unexpected treasure!

“Wow,” I told myself. “This one has a forever home with me. I’ll be reading it from cover to cover.” Two centuries of history. Winsome photographs. Definitely a cozy-quilty feel. Plus, the book included four vintage quilt patterns at the end. A recipe for hours of delicious diversion. What if something within the pages also whipped up a surprising cozy mystery idea?

Could happen. One never knew.

Thank you, Cheryle Miller, for your thoughtfulness. You were right. And I’m glad you didn’t take “no” for an answer. (This time.)

NOTE: Amazon.com book description for The Quilt that Walked to Golden:…

Drawing its inspiration from letters, journals, and—most importantly—quilts, this engaging account chronicles the history of the women who settled the town of Golden, Colorado, over the course of two centuries. Laced with true stories drawn from American quilting history, the narrative follows the transformation of the shanty mining village into a thriving community, moving through the Depression and up to the present day. Throughout the decades, the art of quilting provides a window into the lives of these women, their successes, and their sorrows. With more than 70 photographs and four vintage quilt patterns, this unique saga is a treasure for historians and quilters alike.

 

 

 

 

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The Bolo Tie

“Here, Sis. Catch.” My brother, Mike, tossed something across the dining room.

Reacting fast, I hooked my hand through a flying gray cord and it looped around my wrist like a lasso. I stopped its spin and laid it out on the counter with care.

My dad’s old bolo tie.

“Don’t you want it?” I asked. Somebody should take it. The tie was a striking western accessory that my dad had worn often. It was still hard to part with his personal items, though he had passed away several years before. The task of disposing of them had been so daunting, we’d put it off again and again. Now, since our mother had moved to a full-time care facility, we needed to ready the house to rent.

“I’ve got plenty of Dad’s things to remember him by,” Mike said. “I’d never wear it.”

Actually, it didn’t look like my other brother’s style either. But just in case, I held it up and waved it at him. “Dan? What about you?”

He stopped stacking books in a box and glanced over, shaking his head. “No thanks, Sis. I’ve got Dad’s bomber jacket. That means more to me than anything. You take it.”

“Well….” I hesitated. What would I do with a bolo tie?

“You could hang it around the rear view mirror in your car,” Mike said.

Did I really want something swinging from my mirror? I mean, it wasn’t like a set of fuzzy dice or anything.

Thank goodness.

“Let me think about it.”

I placed the tie on my “possibly” pile and got back to work, joining family members as we sorted through a number of personal items – some to keep, some to store, and some for the Salvation Army.

At lunch time, we decided to go for hamburgers in town. As I reached for my purse, I noticed the bolo tie still coiled on the counter and grabbed it, too. Once in my car, I hung it around my rear view mirror, as my brother had suggested. A nice effect. It even matched the gray interior of my car. Maybe I would keep it after all.

Dad's Bolo Tie2

We caravanned our cars over the rough road, the bumpy ride causing the tie to sway back and forth. Though I needed to pay attention to the pot holes, a scene from years past filled my mind instead. I envisioned my dad, taking his place in line behind my mother at a pancake breakfast. Wide-shouldered and straight, his six-foot frame towered over her five-foot-two petiteness. A dashing cowboy hat covered Dad’s thick white hair and his steel blue eyes were highlighted by the silvery gray of his bolo tie.

More than one woman gave him a second glance. And a third. None of these looks were lost on my mother, who secured his hand and looked up at him with a mixture of pride and possessiveness. He gave her a wink and a smile. To Dad, Mother was always the only woman in the room.

It was a sweet memory, especially now that he was gone. The tie evoked other memories, as well. Of dinners out and family reunions and snapshots of the handsome man I liked to call “The Silver Fox.”

I touched the tie as I drove, running my fingers up and down the cool cord, stopping at the silver slide. The setting featured a black background with a swordfish arced across the metal. It reminded me of my dad’s lifetime enjoyment of fishing – his hand-tied flies, tackle boxes, and humming reels. Boat rides across the lake and an Evinrude motor that ran smooth long after its heyday – another beneficiary of Dad’s talent for tinkering.

Dad's Bolo Tie

Rubbing the tie’s ribbed tips between my fingers, I sent a thank you heavenward for my dad. While passing through this life, he had also passed on his love of the outdoors to my brothers and to me. An inheritance more valuable than mere money.

And I offered gratitude for fond memories of a winsome, white-haired cowboy, unwittingly winning over all the ladies in the room, while wearing a bolo tie.

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