The Handkerchief

Originally August 2, 2012

There once was a woman who had ten children, 4 boys and 6 girls. Her life centered around her children as they grew from babies to adults. Something happens in a mother’s heart when she carries a child within her body for nine months. That baby growing from a tiny seed to be a fully-developed person leaves an imprint within the heart and soul of Mama. The child depends on her totally for those nine months and for the next few months until… Well, you know that story and I digress.

Mama watched each child grow into a strong, healthy, capable person and the day came for the eldest to go out into the world to make his own way. As he walked down the road, Mama waved with her handkerchief and once out of sight, she wiped the single tear trickling down her cheek with the handkerchief. She took that handkerchief and placed it in a small box he had made for her.

With each child, the scene replayed itself with a new handkerchief and a different box either made or bought by the person. Some of them walked away, some rode a horse, others drove a car, or boarded a train or bus.

Daddy had died before the first one left home. The day arrived that the youngest child drove away in her car to go off to college. The last handkerchief with its tear stain found its home in a glass box the youngest had bought for Mama last Christmas.

The little ceremony had gone unnoticed by the children. They had not realized the differences in the handkerchief or the one small tear.

Each time they returned for a visit, Mama would pull out the handkerchief to wave as they left and leave another tear stain on their handkerchief. When she felt all alone and thinking about one of the children, she used their handkerchief.

Mama grew old and feeble. One day, the ambulance was called by the mailman to Mama’s house. She was standing by the mailbox as was her custom when he arrived with her mail. She often had a drink of water or a cookie for him. As they were exchanging their daily news, Mama fell to the ground.

The children were all called to the hospital. Mama told them goodbye and that she had left each of them  something special in their little box. That night, Mama left them and took that little piece of each of them she held in her heart with her.

After the funeral, the eldest remembered Mama’s words. He went in to her room and brought all the boxes out. They opened them at the same time. The boxes held the handkerchiefs and a letter. The letter told of her love, her pride, and the significants of the tear-stained handkerchiefs.

That is how a long-time tradition for the family began. The children used this for their children. Their children are using it for their children.

Love of a mother carries through the ages to future generations.


Author: Pamela K. Young

I have not only lived many chapters in one life, but many lives in one body. The person I am today is far wiser than the me of young adulthood. My life is like your life with its ebb and flow. We are all connected in some way. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother, but what makes me, well, me is the way I wife, mother, and grandmother. I am a liver transplant survivor. Whatever devastation you have survived, we survived in our individual ways. I create with words and photos. I am a writer and photographer.

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