lesley crewe


The things left behind…

on April 29, 2010

Mother’s Day is fast approaching.

We’ve never made a big deal of it at our house because every day was Mother’s Day for me, which sounds sappy but it’s the truth. So I’ll expect my usual….a silly card from my boy and a sweet card from my girl and two long-distant phone calls and that will be about it. I know they love me and God knows I love them. Then I’ll go to the cemetery and kiss the ground over our baby Joshua and I’ll be there so he can tell me he loves me too. I don’t need anymore than that.

But on Mother’s Day, I desperately miss my own mother. She’s been gone almost nine years now, and I still can’t believe it. We had a complicated relationship, as all mother and daughters do, but one thing I do know is that she loved me and I loved her.

I make sure I have things around me, so I can touch her whenever I want to. My study is filled with pictures of her throughout her life. There’s one of her and I when I was about two. I’m sitting on her lap, pouting. When I turned the picture over, Mom had written “The Lip”. And there’s another one of the two of us as we stood together by my ratty old suitcases, on my way to the airport, before I left for Dalhousie University. My mother was younger than I am now.

When I go into the bathroom, I can take her perfume bottle off the shelf and hold it. If I’m strong enough, I can even take the cap off and breath in the scent. There’s just a tiny bit left, Demi-Jour, in an exquisite cut-glass globe Mom said she could only buy at The Bay. After she died, my sister and I wanted to buy some, but they don’t make it anymore.

I have the china Siamese cats my sister and I gave her for Mother’s Day, forty-three years ago. It was the first thing we bought her with our own money, and we picked it out ourselves. We gave it to her while she was still in bed, eating the breakfast we’d made. We were shocked when she started to cry. But I’m a mother now, so I know.

I finally got rid of most of her beautiful clothes only a few years ago, and believe me, she had style and taste. But I didn’t keep that in the end. I kept the outfit she used to wear in the garden. It’s in my closet. Some of her handbags are in my closet too. I kept the clean tissues I found in them. Mom was a great tissue stuffer, and I swear they smell like her. My sister Cinderella, kept her gorgeous Italian leather shoes. I was the miserable step-sister on that score…..couldn’t get my big toe in most of them.

I took my daughter Sarah to New York City for her 21st birthday and when we were in Bloomingdale’s, I spied a handbag that looked just like one my mother had in the early sixties….you know the type, where the clasp at the top has to be pushed back to be opened and when you close it, it has this satisfying click. It cost $350!!! But I fell in love with that bag, because it was Mom. And I could hear her in my head. She always told me, “Do something nice for yourself every once in a while, so you don’t feel unappreciated.”

I bought the bag.

It wasn’t until much later, that I remembered why I loved the bag so much. It came to me out of the blue. One night when I was six, my mom and dad went out for the evening. The babysitter arrived and my sister and I were in bed. I wasn’t asleep and I called for mom to come in one more time and kiss me goodbye. I can still see her from the lighted hallway before she entered my darkened room. She had on a gorgeous sixties-style dress, fitted at the top, but with a full skirt. She was wearing gloves, and at her elbow was draped her soft leather handbag.

When she came closer, her costume jewelry glittered. Mom sat at the edge of my bed, and kissed me with her deep red lipstick lips. “Good night, sweetheart. I’ll see you in the morning.”

 Her perfume lingered after she was gone.

9 responses to “The things left behind…

  1. karen says:

    This is very heart warming Lesley 🙂 There’s nothing quite like memories of your Mother.
    I lost my Mom 13 years ago and I miss her dearly each and every day. Sadly she didn’t get to know all of her grandchildren. But the few she did get to know before her passing have the fondest memories of their dear Nanny 🙂
    My mother was the 1st person I thought about when I heard the Summertime Revue were doing a Reunion Show, as this was something we attended through the years and would laugh til we cried at the hysterics of Bette MacDonald, Maynard, Max and the rest of the crazy cast:)
    My Mom loved to laugh and if I close my eyes and really concentrate I can hear her laugh so vividly:)
    I too have one of the first gifts I bought myself for my Mother one Mother’s Day, It’s a souvenir plate with the Mother’s Prayer on it, she displayed that so proudly in her house, always telling those who entered how I went out and bought it myself:)
    So as this Mother Day approaches I will think of her and remember her as always and I think if I’m not too late, I’ll get a pair of tickets for the Summertime Revue in her Memory, a sort of Mother’s Day gift to her memory and the laughs and fun we once shared 🙂
    Love you and miss you Mom 🙂

  2. Mellita says:

    Lesley, this is so moving and absolutely beautiful!!
    I always look forward to reading your next blog entry. Keep it up!!

  3. linda says:

    beautiful…just beautiful.

  4. Cathy Graham says:

    You have such a way of touching your readers with your writing.

    I love your honest and emotional approach with all the memories of your mom and what Mother’s Day means to you.

    Love it!

  5. Diane says:

    You really do have a way with words. What a nice post. Now that I’m a mom, I get it, and I wonder what subtle sights and smells my little one will remember many years from now.

  6. Beautiful post, Lesley. It reminds me to appreciate my mother more as she’s still alive. I do have a picture of her in my living room digging in a pile of dirt (in Sydney!) with a silver spoon, circa 1938. She’s about 3 and my impish aunt is next to her. They’re both filthy and ratty and smiling.

    My mother-in-law died 12 years ago. Having no daughters of her own, I inherited some of her treasures, including a Gucci purse (never used) and two Hermes scarves (still in their boxes). They remind me to enjoy what you have while you’re alive…you never know what might happen so why save for later?


  7. Anne Rowlands says:

    I remember your mother. She was beautiful, so elegant, and calm. I don’t remember her freaking out over dumb little things like my mum did and still does. Now, I can tell mum to chill out and she looks at me sharply and then concedes that just maybe she is over the top, again. Jane remembers her as one of the best teachers ever, and is glad that her little ones have had kindergarten teachers who were almost as nice. I remember getting to go home from school early once because Jane barfed in school and your mum had me take her home. I think that must have been when we were in grade 6, and my mum was taking care of her mother who was really ill. Little sisters could be such a trial.
    I also remember your mum made fabulous cornbread, something I don’t think my mother ever made in her life so having it at your house was an event!

    • lesleycrewe says:

      Thanks Anne….she was beautiful and a wonderful teacher. Every year she had at least one little boy ask if he could marry her when he grew up.

      And believe me….Nancy and I still have her cornbread recipe, but for the longest time I couldn’t make it….I was too lonely for her.

      I remember your mother being tall and slender and your dad had this “Fred McMurray” thing going on…..a really nice guy. He used to carve the roasts at your dinner table. So strange the things that stick with you. I’m sure if we ever get together, we’ll remember things we haven’t thought of for years!

      • Anne Rowlands says:

        It is funny the things that come flooding back. My dad did have a Fred McMurray thing about him, though my mum always said it was more Andy Griffiths. I couldn’t see that myself so much.

        My sister cried when I told her yesterday that your mum had passed away. She says that kindergarten teachers aren’t supposed to do that.Her 8 year old daughter, Emma, is as big a softie as her mother and cried too….so we made a puddle in Jane’s kitchen, and Emma didn’t even know why as she had walked in after the sniffles started.

        Do you remember ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’? Can Nancy still do Snoopy’s happy dance? She was awesome!

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