And all that it implied

As a child, there was a window of time when it was just my mother and me, a time when I was certain that I was the most important person in the world.

My father had died four years prior and my mother and I were alone. Hand in hand, we faced all that that implied.

Many nights, when neither of us could bear the thought of sleeping alone, we pulled the cushions off the black pleather sofa, one by one, stacked them against the wall, and pulled the foldaway bed from the sofa’s depths. Together, we would make the bed up with fresh sheets and blankets, piling on layer after layer of comfort.

We popped popcorn in one of those hot air poppers where the chunks of golden butter melted so slowly and, drop by drop, slipped through the golden dome over the kernels as they popped.  We would set out our Tupperware bowls, fill them with popcorn, and climb into our temporary bed.

We wore matching nightgowns, nightgowns that I am certain my mother paid for by neglecting a bill or by dipping into what little emergency funds we had.  They were palest, cotton candy pink polyester with white lace trim.  I felt beautiful, dressed in a miniature version of my mother’s nightgown.

In that nightgown, I was important and visible…the center of my mother’s world. As much as she was there to comfort and cocoon me, I was there to bring her solace and purpose.

There are few better feelings than that…to know that you are the most important thing in someone else’s world.

We would settle in and watch shows that, at six years old, I could not have understood: Maude, The Odd Couple, and Love, American Style. I struggled to stay awake, to savor every moment with my mother, but my hand would soon go limp in hers as I drifted off to sleep.

There, in our nest of blankets and popcorn, in the flickering light of the television, I was safe, a feeling that was so elusive and shifting as a child.  A feeling that as soon as I held in my hand, slipped away, at even the slightest bit of upheaval.

I soon outgrew that nightgown, but insisted that I could still wear it.  The elastic at the cuff cut into my skin and when I slid my finger beneath it to readjust it, the grooves in my skin remained.

By then, money was even more scarce and there was no way possible for my mother to splurge again.  That nightgown stayed in my bureau for years.  I would take it out and remember those nights on the pullout sofa with my mother.

Those nights, in my pink nightgown, with my beautiful mother, are, beyond compare, the happiest memories of my childhood.

Simple, yet important.

There in my nightgown.

Important. Visible. Safe.

This post is linked up with The Red Dress Club.

The prompt this week asked us to write about finding a lost article of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet.

47 comments

  1. Kir thekircorner.com

    Oh my goodness was not prepared for this…and yet it was so beautiful. So touching and told with such love and memory. I am sorry about ur dad..but I am glad about the time u could spend with ur mom feeling safe and important. I will think of this all day.

  2. Nancy C npoj.blogspot.com

    The way that the two of you were united together, holding on to each other….it's breathtaking. How much you must have comforted her.

    Just lovely.

  3. jessb27

    The imagery this post brings is amazing. So beautiful and takes me back to my own flowered nightgowns, elastic at the wrists. Lovely piece as always.

  4. tracy sellabitmum.com

    Oh I love this. The way your mother held you close in every way to keep you safe and together. and Now I am also singing the theme to Love, American Style. :)

  5. Efloraross thewriterrevived.com

    I love how much I get to know you through your writing. You make me feel like I lived these experiences right alongside you. Great job!

  6. I look forward to your posts so much, because I feel like I am sitting with you, and learning about a new friend over a cup of coffee (or glass of wine, but not so early in the morning!)

    How very lovely that your mother sacrificed for that nightgown and gave you the gift of feeling so loved and protected at a time when you needed it so desparately.

    As usual, the imagery is just perfect. I remember my parents had one of those air poppers with the dome and the little section for melted butter.

  7. Here you gave me a mother to strive to imitate. That is a thing to do. Wonderful.

  8. tsonoda148

    Lovely, powerful, sweet, poignant. Also saddened me as my relationship with my mother was never like that. Beautifully done!

  9. KLZ taminginsanity.com

    I look at Alex and think "We are for each other".

    Then I think "e.e. cummings is maybe not an appropriate poet for my one year old".

  10. transplantedx3

    Love the imagery, I felt like I was in the room, like a time-traveler, standing there watching you with your mom. It amazes me how powerful memories can be associated with the simplest things. Bravo.

  11. This line " I was there to bring her solace and purpose." resonated with me. My son has been such a huge source of strength and comfort during this difficult time and I often wonder if he knows that.

  12. Hutch bawesomeinstead.com

    This post brought back so many emotions from the 2 years my mom and I had together between the dads. Our snack was strawberries and brown sugar.

    I don't comment on every post, mainly because I'm so in awe of your writing I'm at a loss of how to respond that even measures up. When you do get that novel published I'll be one of the first to pre-order!

  13. Stacey staceysmotheringmoments.com

    I love that the memory is tied to something so tangible. I can picture you and your mother on the pull-out! What a beautiful memory!

  14. Mad Woman adiaryofamadwoman.com

    How you tell such a rich story in so few words is just amazing. Chock full of imagery, pulling us in and making us smell the popcorn and feeling the elastic at our own wrists. Well done, my friend.
    This takes me back to a favorite dress of mine that I wore well past it fitting me. Oh, happy memories. Thank you for that.

  15. Sherri

    Nichole, you always make me feel like I am YOU, feeling these feelings and remembering these moments. You are so very talented!

    And I remember all of those old shows, so much of the humor probably sailing over my head at that time! But sharing time with family was what made them special.

    This is beautiful, as always my friend.

  16. gigi kludgymom.com

    My favorite part was not what you'd think. I loved your description of the popcorn maker…it was totally spot on and took me right back to my own childhood. :)

  17. What a wonderful post! How special and to remember it so fondly. Thanks for sharing!

  18. @30ishmama twitter.com/30ishmama

    Such a lovely memory, described so beautifully. Thank you.

  19. sugarbowlmix

    "Layer after layer of comfort" – so great and brings such meaning to the sofa bed. Lovely writing.

  20. Sonora twinfinity.org

    What a beautiful post and a wonderful tribute to your mother. As a parent, it seems that sometimes it is the small things that are so lasting and so important. I love how you both had matching pajamas and how those pajamas still hold those important feelings of security and love. Love this post!

  21. Leighann

    So incredible. You created the visual so well and I could see the comfy space you shared with your mom. Loved this.

  22. Law Momma law-momma.com

    Oh I love this. Just beautiful.

  23. wantapeanutblog

    I remember those nightgowns with the elastic wrists so well, though I'm sure I never would have remembered them if you hadn't written this so perfectly. That nest of blankets and popcorn sounds just heavenly.

  24. What beautiful memories your mom created for you.

  25. Elaine misselaienouslife.com

    I'm so glad you had each other and those matching nightgowns and that you felt so special at such a difficult time. Beautiful.

  26. liz

    Can I hire you to retell moments of my life? Because you make them so much more beautiful than I ever could!

  27. CDG

    Popcorn and late night tv…and the nightgown. I somehow imagine Lanz, and you have blond braids… and that's how powerful this is.

    You are something special, lady.

  28. Jackie withjustabitofmagic.com

    I love how descriptive you were with everything. I could see it all in my head, smell the popcorn, and hear the television.
    My grandma used to have flannel night gowns and would get them for me as well. I loved them and I finally got rid of the last one not all that long ago. Funny how something so simple can hold so many memories.

  29. Yuliya shesuggests.com/

    Beautiful words Nichole. I am a little disgusted with myself for thinking this but I'm jealous, I'd have to search far and wide to find a memory like this with my mom.

  30. You had me at "hot air popper." The little tray on top that melted the butter? Genius. Pure magic to me as a child.

    Well written, Nichole. I enjoyed this.

  31. Mandyland inmandyland.com

    Oh lady. This was beautiful. It flowed with such ease. I could actually picture you there with the popcorn, the next of blankets, the TV.

    Such a lovely, lovely post.

  32. Renee 2old2tap.blogspot.com

    I love this!
    The matching nightgowns. Popcorn. Sofa bed. And tv.
    What a beautiful relationship you've shared.

  33. thecrayonwrangler

    This was beautiful (as always which is why I want to be like you when I grow up) I love how you zoomed into the details and made it so vivid and real for the reader. Excellent!

  34. Nessa live--your--life.blogspot.com

    Wow that is really beautiful. You have an amazing way with words.

  35. Jennifer Dillon

    'Important. Visible. Safe.' Perfect.

  36. Alex@LateEnough lateenough.com

    I love the moments where we are seen and connect. What a lovely post.

  37. Beautiful. I feel like I was there on the couch with you, watching Love American Style, or in my case, probably Little House on the Prairie. Thanks for sharing a piece of your heaven with me!

  38. JDaniel4's Mom jdaniel4smom.com

    I remember tight times when I was little. We went to dinner and a movie once in a blue moon. It felft like such a luxury.

  39. Elizabeth realestatetangent.com

    Nice.

  40. Nichole,
    You created such beautiful imagery. I could see the living room, the couch, the popcorn, the beautiful nighties. It made me think of times at my Grandma's on the pull out couch. Just a wonderful vignette and a wonderful tribute to your mom.
    Thank you.
    Dana

  41. Karen Peterson apeekatkarensworld.com

    I have some similar memories to these. and I can't help but feel nostalgic for those nights when it was just me and my brother and my mom. We never had extra money, but life was so much simpler then.

    Beautiful post. Thank you!

  42. Lydia squidmom.com

    This is equal parts beautiful and sad, Sad but I couldn't tell you why just that I got the sense that things weighed heavy underneath and that you really were a huge sense of comfort for your mother. And love the way the nightgowns connested you and how you didn't wnt to stop wearing yours even when it dug into your skin.
    Actually, the beauty of this memory far outweighs the sad I've decided.

  43. The entire situation, the feelings, the actions right down to the popping of the popcorn…so vivid. I enjoyed sinking into this story.

  44. Just beautiful. I remember watching Love, American Style and Family Affair with my mother. I'd be sitting on the floor of the den coloring and she'd be ironing. The TV would be on, and every once in a while, my mother would spray me with the little bottle of water she used for wetting the shirts she was ironing (we couldn't afford a steam iron). I would collapse into giggles every time. And act surprised, even though I wasn't.

    I read this post and can't help wondering what special moments my own children will remember with me… I can only guess. And hope.

  45. ksluiter

    this is so darn lovely, yet again. You have the power to put me in your experience AND make me recall my own experiences based on your own.

    we had that popcorn popper, by the way.

  46. beforethebabywakes

    just a thought. but i hope you still have the nightgown. it'd be a great memory to pass down to your daughter.

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