Song of My Mother
Towards the back of a closet, in the corner where the dust tends to linger and the light shies away, hangs a brown suede leather jacket right next to a pair of old jeans. A jacket that--in its newer days, when the zipper still worked and both pockets were hole-less--a young woman wore on occasion. But, both the jeans and jacket are a bit faded now, the threads have turned awry, and the zippers have lost their shine. The woman has now passed it down to her daughter, but her daughter never wears it.
Making fashion a hobby of mine never appealed to me. If two designer purses were placed in front of me, I would not notice the difference. I was not raised a 'fashionista' and never learned the details to accessorizing. I wear a pair of jeans and do not worry if I will make America's Next Top Model. But, as I get older, and the days turn cold - well, as cold as it can get in Texas - I always stayed away from wearing my mother's brown Greaser styled jacket, preferring a more in-style sweater or hoodie. It's not because I do not like it; in fact, it is just the opposite. I love that old jacket because embedded with each crease and woven through each comforting scent come many great memories -- memories formed with my mother that, unlike the disorganized clothes in my ill-lit closet, will not fade with time.
My mother bought the jacket in a small clothing store in Queens, New York, sometime before I was born. "The weather is much colder there and that was the style back then. I just liked how it looked, really. Much like guys and cars, huh? Although it looks thin, it's surprisingly warm as well. It shows you that not everything is what it looks like, right?" she chuckled when I asked about her purchasing it. My mom said we could embellish it, upgrade the style, or maybe just change the light bulb so I can see it if I choose to pull it out and make it my own. "You're pretty creative, honey. You really could do it."
When I was in grade-school, we had a Family Day where we brought a member or members of our family to compete in the school's events. I brought my mother, of course. I told my mother we would blow everyone away with our teamwork, dancing skills, and brains-- well, at least we would provide a little breeze. When we entered the school gym, I noticed all of the students, and I started to get nervous. I never did fit in. My mom gave me a warm smile and told me that I did not need to fit in; I remain true to myself and still leave an impression on the lives of others. The first event was a game similar to charades, a written form of charades. The instructions were to draw something and have your family come up with a phrase for it. I drew a little girl running and a sun. My mother wrote the phrase "Carpe Diem." Even today, I am still awed by the brilliance displayed by my mother that day. We won that round because of my mother's creativity, a trait I hope I can emulate at will as well. When we returned home, I asked her what her winning phrase means. She told me it was Latin for "Seize the day", words that had inspired her as a teenager and a philosophy she hopes will inspire me. In the darkness beneath a bed, in a small blue plastic box, lie mementos from events past. Ticket stubs, birthday cards, photos, certificates and notes. On top of it all lies a picture. A teenage girl, age 16, pulls the picture out, admires it. The young woman depicted has a suede leather jacket on, and blue jeans. Her black hair is straightened with a pixie haircut. She has a small playful smile, head tilted left slightly, causing a lock of hair to fall out of place. Her deep brown eyes seem to be looking far past the camera, searching, perhaps, for the young girl-- as if, she already understands the answer to every question in the eyes peaking back at her and is daring her to find the answer herself. My mother looked worry-free in that picture. "I was young. In my twenties, probably. Things...
Citations: Eric Liu, "Song for my Father"
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