My Material Life

Missing Darlene

Today would have been my mother-in-law Darlene’s eighty-second birthday. She passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on May 27th of last year. It’s caught me off guard, how much I miss her. I don’t think she particularly cared for me when we met back in the mid-eighties. I was taking the attention of her baby, the last of her six sons. And she wasn’t the warm and nurturing kind of mother I was used to. I didn’t produce any grandchildren until I’m sure she’d completely given up on me, but when I did I guess I saw her in a new light. We did have things in common, like British mysteries on public television. Regular every-other Saturday visits gave me the opportunity to explore her library, borrow her books, and find authors that I loved. She was a wonderful grandmother to my daughter and it was a joy to watch them together. Our little family enjoyed being in her orbit – one of the number of families that circled and came together around her. And then she died. Things are different now, but one day while I was driving in my car in March I thought about her not being here and I realized that it didn’t sting any more.

It’s interesting that she was both born and died in the month of May because some of my favorite memories of her come from May – things like her cherry trees and cherry jam and the scent of lilacs in bloom in her yard. So I’ll probably write about some of those things this month. And I’m going to start working on finishing the crewel embroidery pictured above. I was so happy to find this (along with more pieces – some finished, some not) in a drawer in her house after she died. I never knew she was a needle and yarn person too.


  1. That would be lovely way to remember her – to finish an embroidery project that she started. (By the way, it looks like a really good crewel embroidery one! They are difficult to come by, these days)

    • Dear Janet,
      Thank you for your kind comment. It really is a beautiful kit. I have to research this Elsa Williams and visit your blog. Thanks again – yours is my first non-family or friend comment (though I’m grateful for those too)!

  2. camille

    How touching. I thought about her today and I only met her a few times. Is there a drink or a favorite food we can have in her honor tomorrow?

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