Rose Bower

For as early as I can remember in the 1950s, my mother was crocheting squares.  There were white squares with an “x” in them and, my favorite, squares with a three-dimensional rose in them. As a housewife caring for foster babies and having babies of her own about every two years, it took her years to finish the project. I remember watching her crochet needles flying as she seemed not to notice she was doing it.  She also quipped to friends or neighbors that she crocheted to calm herself down so she would not beat the children. I don’t know if that worked or not.  We sure got the paddle often enough.  Though, maybe it would have been more often if she had not calmed herself down with a rose square. What made the beautiful project so thrilling to me was that she would tell me that it would be my bedspread when I grew up. I remember how beautiful I thought it was when she finally pieced it together and put it on her bed.

My mother loved babies.  That is one trait I can say I inherited from her. I was the oldest child, but don’t recall how she loved me as a baby.  When I was a young child, she would tell me that I was an ugly baby.  She told me that, when presented with her newborn, she told the nurses, “Eeewe,  that ugly thing isn’t mine!” I don’t know why she told me this.

As the family grew and the marriage decayed, perhaps my mother viewed her children as the ropes that anchored her to my father. Maybe five rambunctious children would wear most mothers down. Or, maybe she just could not relate to older children as easily as she could to babies.  I know I had opinions and a smart mouth. By my teen years, it was very clear that she hated him and we children, by some extension, were part of it.

My mother and I never had that close mother/daughter bond that many of my friends seem to have.  She was very critical and I never measured up to her expectations. If I didn’t have such a long nose, I might be cute. My fine blonde hair would not hold a Shirley Temple curl no matter how tightly she pin-curled it.  Braids that brought tears to my eyes were pencil thin. Why wasn’t I a cheerleader like Virginia Chaney? I was rebuffed often enough that I learned not to go to her with my problems or share any of my secrets with her. An expression of sentiment was always scoffed or ridiculed. No, we were not close.

Then, as an adult, the first of our lineage to attend college, have a career earning “real money” by my parent’s standards, nothing I accomplished earned me any compliments or accolades from my mother. In fact, her remarks always sounded like jealousy. I have been able to do things and go places she never did.  From her comments, I am sure it was jealousy.

As Mama got older and gained weight, she would often give me some articles of clothing she no longer fit into. One day Andy and I were visiting and she had a pile of clothing she was getting rid of and asked if I wanted any of them.  I saw a pair of shorts and tried them on.  Mama quipped, “That doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would”. She left the room for a few minutes and Andy said, “That is the nicest thing I’ve ever heard her say to you”. I was stunned.  I truly hadn’t noticed. But I could not think of a single thing she had said that was nicer.  I tried for days before admitting he was right.

Sometime in the 1990s, I bought a new bed and Mama gave me the Rose-Bower crocheted bedspread to put on it. I was nearly fifty years old when I got my bedspread. Then, when we sold our house and moved on the boat, I took the bedspread back to my mother’s house for safekeeping. Later still, when Mama put her house up for sale, we took our possessions we had stored there and put them in a rented storage unit. We had furniture and household goods scattered among family and friends and moved things around several times during our boating life.   I lost track of the bedspread.

In 2010, Mama told us she had breast cancer. It had already reached the stage where there was nothing to do about it.  She had never had a mammogram even though both her mother and her grandmother had died of cancer.  Mama had known for six months before she told us.  I thought she was ashamed. We had a small motorhome and parked it in her driveway so we could help her in her last few months of life.  After a few weeks, she told us to leave.  We bothered her. So we left to volunteer in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park for July and August.  I called her every weekend when we went to town for groceries and had a phone signal and asked if we should come back.  My sister Barbara went to stay with her.  I was gratified to learn that it was not just me; Barbara bothered her too. Finally, in mid August, Mama said we could come back even though she was not dead yet.

She was very weak but was comfortable enough with copious amounts of morphine and oxycodone. One night she awoke me with coughing and I went into her room.  We both sat on the edge of the bed for a while and she told me she was sorry that she had not been a better mother.  I assured her that she did the best that she knew how.  You can’t do better than that.

Another night I asked her where my bedspread was.  I couldn’t remember if it was in the storage unit or in her house, along with a stack of homemade quilts made by my grandmother. She told me the bedspread was in the small bedroom on the closet shelf. A day or two later, Mama died.  We knew the time was close so there were children and grandchildren in the bedroom with her.  We were watching the movie “A League of Their Own” on the television. I was sitting on the bed next to Mama with my arm around her shoulders when I noticed that her breathing had changed.  We turned off the movie and paid attention to Mama.  She was not awake.  Her breathing slowed and then stopped.  We called the Hospice nurse who arrived a while later.  Then, in about two hours, people came to pick up her body and take her to George Washington Hospital medical school, where Mama had donated her body. She did not want a funeral or a memorial service.  Poof!  Mama was gone. I noticed that no one had cried.

During the process of handling Mama’s estate, beginning with clearing out the house, I saw that the closet shelf in the small bedroom only had one quilt on it.  No bedspread.  It must have been in the storage unit.

In the ensuing years, I looked in the storage unit several times, but it was so full of boxes and furniture that it was impossible to know where the bedspread was.  But Mama had said it was in the small bedroom. What happened to it?  Did she sell it?  Did she give it to someone else?  Did someone visiting simply take it while Mama was sick?  Was it safely in the storage unit and I just forgot where it ended up?  The questions nagged me for years.

Now it is near the end of 2017. We sold the boat and moved into a motorhome for six years.  And now we have moved into our retirement house.  Busy as I was during the emptying of the storage unit and the loading of the truck, I kept looking for the bedspread.  I thought I may have gotten a glimpse of it once.  When we unloaded the truck at our new home, I watched for the bedspread.  I searched plastic bags as I recalled putting it in one with a zipper, one a bedspread might be packaged in at a store.

These past few weeks have been stressful.  Even good things can be stressful and I have been working very hard, exhausting myself trying to get the house organized.  What I thought was the bedspread turned out to be some lace curtains I took from Mama’s house.  I told myself the bedspread is probably in one of the many boxes filling half the garage. But I wasn’t sure.

My back has been telling me I was working too hard.  I told Andy that I was not going to do anything today.  We went to the Orlando Friends meeting this morning.  Andy said that I would at least sit still for an hour there. I did.  While I was sitting there in silence, I realized that I had been overdoing it and it wasn’t just sore muscles.  I had a heartache that was eating my insides. I had become obsessed with the Rose Bower bedspread.  It had been nagging me for years now.  I recalled visiting an old Florida farmhouse a few years ago and seeing a small Rose Bower cloth draped over a chair.  My heart ached when I saw it. It was just a bedspread.  I had to let it go and get over it.

After rise of meeting, I was telling a man how stressed I have been with the move and the missing bedspread. We agreed that, until all the boxes in the garage are opened, the mystery will not be solved.  I shed a tear as I told him, it wasn’t just a bedspread; it was the one, nicest thing my mother ever did for me. Then at lunch, I told Andy about spending my whole meeting for worship focused on the bedspread.  I cried all the paper napkins wet. Andy was moved to put an end to this bedspread thing once and for all.  We would check the boxes in the garage.  If we didn’t find the bedspread, we would call any family member who might have taken (or been given) it.  My niece Jessica loves vintage things.  Maybe Mama gave it to Jessica.  Or maybe to my Aunt Jane.

Andy went straight to the garage as soon as we got home.  I went outside to plant my herb garden just outside our bedroom sliding-glass doors.  First, I had to push the mulch around to find the plastic irrigation pipes.  A light rain began to fall as I set out dill, Rosemary, mint, and chives.  Andy came to the door with a mattress pad.  No, that not what I wanted.  It is white with red roses on it. Can’t that man tell a bedspread from a mattress pad? I dug more furiously and was soaking wet from the rain.

The next time Andy came to the door, he held up a clear plastic case with the Rose Bower bedspread in it.  I burst into tears and went in the door with the trowel in hand.  I was sobbing so hard I was shaking. Bewildered Andy said I was crying when I didn’t know where it was and now I was crying when I did. I could not tell him I was relieved.  I had to calm down first. I wasn’t happy that he found the bedspread.  I was happy to know that Mama had not given it to someone else after she told me it was for me when I grew up. I didn’t want to think she had, but I didn’t know.  Maybe she sold it.  Maybe she didn’t want me to have it after all. I was such a disappointment to her. Was that her way of telling me so?

NO.  She really did want me to have it.  I did have it all along.  All these years, I have been fretting for no reason other than I couldn’t remember storing the bedspread in the storage unit. Maybe Mama is somewhere laughing at me right now. Ridiculing me for being so stupid.

I kicked some of the stuff on the floor under the bed to put a white blanket and the bedspread on it.  She made it for a full bed so it does not fit my queen size mattress.

Some squares are coming apart in a few places so I will have to do some mending.  Otherwise, it is in pretty good shape and still vibrant white.

It’s not just a bedspread, Mama.

 

 

 

 

 

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22 thoughts on “Rose Bower

  1. derrickjknight November 6, 2017 / 4:32 am

    A truly heart-rending story. All the way through I was willing you to find it. So good that you had those last few days and her acknowledgement.

    Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 6, 2017 / 10:08 pm

      She was not a mean, hateful person and I am sure she loved us in her own way, as best she could. She grew up in a squabbling household of six children where I suspect (based on knowing them as adult siblings ) that there was little loving warmth or affection. They were simply trying to survive their circumstances. She was a product of her own childhood. Yes, it was satisfying to hear her apologize for being a bad mother. That told me that she had learned and grown. I hope my response gave her a little bit of comfort. Andy called it forgiveness. I’m not so sure it was that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane Wilmer November 6, 2017 / 6:18 am

    Hi Dinata…thanks for this…brings back some of my childhood memories also…this is so well written…you should enter it in some kind of contest…. Glad it had a happy ending with you finding the bedspread! And glad the new house is coming along so well!

    Jane

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 6, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      Thank you, Jane. It was an emotional day yesterday, but writing the blog put me at ease.

      Like

  3. Sharon Starling November 6, 2017 / 6:39 am

    That is the most beautuful thing you have written. You pulled on my heart strings and made me miss my mother all the more.

    Sharon

    Like

  4. Bill Williams November 6, 2017 / 8:18 am

    What a beautiful story! You really are an excellent storyteller. Hmmm… perhaps you should write a book…

    Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 6, 2017 / 10:14 pm

      Thank you, Bill. I heard the “write a book” comment several times today. I’d be happy just to recover my cost of doing the first one.

      Like

  5. JRS November 6, 2017 / 8:20 am

    Dinata — I was going to say this is one of your best posts that I have ever read. But I changed my mind. This is BY FAR , THE BEST POST I have ever read by you. I’m not a person that likes to read emotion filled books… I enjoy action thriller techno-novels. But I think you missed your calling on your first book. Dig deep, I am guessing you might have just written you prologue to the next volume. JR

    Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 6, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      Thank you, JR. It was satisfying to write it at the end of emotion-filled day and weeks. The act of writing it sort of put things in order and made sense of it all. I felt better afterward. And, I must admit that I feel better today after getting such positive feedback too.

      Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 7, 2017 / 6:51 pm

      Thank you Beverly. He is a very good man, in spite of the fact that he can’t tell a mattress pad from a bedspread.

      Like

      • relationspdbeverly November 8, 2017 / 8:47 am

        It’s actually Pamela (Beverly is my last name). I think most men probably don’t know, either, lol.

        Like

      • Dinata Misovec November 8, 2017 / 10:24 am

        Sorry! I knew that. First name last names are confusing.

        Like

      • relationspdbeverly November 8, 2017 / 2:19 pm

        I know. I’ve been dealing with it all of my life, lol.

        Like

  6. Peter's pondering November 6, 2017 / 9:24 am

    Indeed, it is not just a bedspread, but a wonderful tale, a host of memories, happiness and sadness all rolled into one. May it warm you for many years to come.

    Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 7, 2017 / 6:45 pm

      Thank you Peter. Right now I am simply enjoying the relief that I still have it. It was awful to think she didn’t save it for me, even if I was wrong the whole time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. cas olverson November 6, 2017 / 4:02 pm

    Oh poor BEAUTIFUL Dinata! Somehow this post was truncated on my Fb version. Did not get all the heartbreaking details till now.

    Only God knows how a mother, especially one who purportedly loved babies, could single out a particular child for such emotional cruelty. The only time I have run across any such thing was when a child was prematurely conceived before marriage. On the other hand, it has long been my theory that people who hurt a lot, lash out and hurt others, as if they want everyone else to be hurting too.

    Please don’t ever believe what your mother said about not being pretty. WE have always thought that you are one of the prettiest women we know, let being one of the smartest, talented, most clever people we know (viz., the retirement actuarial table you ran on Andy ha ha ha). When I describe you to people whom I want to come to know you, I always start with how beautiful you are.

    Maybe some of the negativity had to do with the era our mothers were raising us? Even though I was my mom’s absolute favorite child, I too suffered from the sometimes cruel zingers that would spew out of her mouth. ALL MY LIFE she told me, “you’re too fat”. Well, maybe as an adult that has been true, but when I look at formal portraits of my brother and me taken (in the 40s) by my uncle who was a somewhat famous photographer at the time, I do NOT see a fat little kid. Contrarily, my arms and legs looked like skin and bones…like twigs. All my life, she was always nagging me, “you’re not doing that right”, or otherwise displaying disapproval for how I looked or what I was doing. I remember lotsa disapproval!, but not much, “atta Girl!”, or, “job well done”.

    They had come through the Great Depression half starved and destitute and knew from same that only the toughest survive bad times. Perhaps in their misguided ways, they were just trying to toughen us up for the vicissitudes of life.

    Good for you that you are determined to appreciate and enjoy the one special love gift she made for you. Sort of like what Dr. Haim Ginott said in his excellent book, ‘Between Parent & Child’, about communication between parents and children, “pay attention to what you like, ignore what you don’t like”…or something on that order.

    Love, Cas & Fred

    Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 7, 2017 / 6:50 pm

      I think you are right on about the time period. I had a discussion with friends today and we all agreed that in our childhoods, parents were not warm, hugging, encouraging or loving. Now I wonder if there is something about our generation that makes us expect it. Movies, television, psychiatrists, or song? I also like and will heed the advice to pay attention to why I like and forget the rest.

      Like

  8. Dale Abell November 7, 2017 / 3:09 pm

    Dinata, I have not been in touch with you and Andy for a long time but I have kept up with every post you have made over the years. It is a great break in the day from this government job. Of all the posts you have made this is truly the most heartwarming one of all. I don’t think any edits are needed and I recommend you convert it into a short story. On another note, you and Andy have a beautiful home!

    Like

    • Dinata Misovec November 7, 2017 / 6:53 pm

      Thank you, Dale. It’s good to hear from you again after so long. I think I will write a few more essays like that. If you ever get to central Florida, be sure to come visit. And, give my regards to Elinor.

      Like

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