Black and White

January 28, 2014

Black and white

The river might be frozen over in the next few days.  Arctic air is sweeping in, and people are bracing themselves. The news on the radio includes a mention of good places to ice skate.  I’m out of my element; I haven’t lived here in a long time.

black and white shoes

As I navigate between the hospital and their apartment in the assisted living complex, I’m struck by the gray and colorless season, a world of black and white, bare branches against the snow.  When I take a quick visit to the thrift store/consignment store, I find white boots, stark against my black skirt as I try them on.  They’re perfect and I picture myself wearing them once I’m back home.

black and white-blue

In the few days before I left, I surrounded myself with color.  Now I’m wondering if I did it subconsciously, knowing I’d need it to sustain me through this time.  I focused on bracelets too, and I brought many of them with me, easily packed.  They provide color, something to talk about when the conversation loses momentum.

black and white-not

They provide a link to other thoughts and memories, and I travel with my mother as she recalls her parents and her youth.  We laugh and then struggle to remember what we were talking about a few moments before, watching the clock until it’s time for me to visit my dad in the hospital.  He should be home soon, hopefully in the next day or two.

I’ll probably wear red bracelets tomorrow, lots of them.  My mom will comment on them all day, each time as if for the first time, and her enthusiasm will be infectious, making our day go a little faster as we wait for him to come home.  If necessary, I’ve got a stack of blue ones for the day after tomorrow.  Even though I wore them today, they’ll be brand new.  And before you know it, he’ll be home as though he never left.

I can’t wait.






15 Responses to Black and White

  1. Curtise on January 28, 2014 at 8:07 am

    There is such a melancholy, elegiac feel to your writing here, Jean. I didn’t know your dad was ill, I hope he is doing better now so he is able to come home from hospital. I love that you – via your bangles and bracelets – are adding some vibrancy to a barren environment that has had the colour bleached out of it for the time being. That will pass. Sending much love. xxxx

  2. Forest City Fashionista on January 28, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I don’t remember you saying your Dad was ill – I hope he is home very soon, feeling much better. I love that you have been using your colourful bracelets as a kind of touchstone with your mother, to distract yourselves from your worry and stress. Colour can be healing and energizing, and it sounds like it’s very much needed in your current landscape.

    The boots are an excellent find – they have a more elegant shape than most Docs.

  3. Rosalind on January 28, 2014 at 10:16 am

    There is a beautiful brevity in your words, reflecting both starkness and warmth. I’m glad you have surrounded yourself with sustaining colour. Your description of ‘traveling’ with your mother is very moving; it reminds me of conversations with my late great grandmother, when my mum was the only person who could engage her in reminiscences because she was the only one left who knew my great grandma’s stories from the past. I hope your dad is well enough to come home very soon.

  4. Amber of Butane Anvil on January 28, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    My dearest Jean, loving and wise, grounded with winter white, your embracing arms carrying all the colours. So much love to you and your parents, all best healing wishes, xoxoxo

  5. Louisa on January 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Oh, Jean! Big hugs for you and your parents.

  6. Melanie on January 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I read this post like a favourite scene from a movie, but it’s so much better because I know you, a poignant drama but with some laughs too. Most of all, I look forward to the scene where your dad comes home. xo

  7. sandra on January 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I hope your Dad is home, well and settled as soon as possible, your bracelets are providing so much, colour, conversation and love, and I’m sending all my love to you all x x x

  8. Lynn Dylan on January 28, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Hi Jean! Thinking of you. I love the white boots! The colors in the bottom pictures are indeed a stark contrast to the first picture and, I’m sure, to the feel of a hospital. I have decided not to keep up Dylan’s Dress so much, but to focus on AMothersJournal, my oldest blog. I do hope you’ll stop by some time!


  9. Jennifer on January 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Hoping your Dad is well and home soon. I love the stories our accessories carry with them. I would love to see your blue ones. It is amazing what role color plays on our emotions. Travel safe when you travel home.

  10. Rose on January 29, 2014 at 9:55 am

    How lovely that you have found some small thing to lift the spirits in what must be a difficult time. When you say that each time your mother sees the bracelets, it is as it is the first time. Is she suffering from alzeheimers? If so, it must be lovely for her to have something new and pleasant happen over and over. The world of Endless First Times.

    Still, although it is hard on you, it sounds as though you are handling it with grace.

    Much love from your twin in England,
    Rose from

    • Jean on January 29, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Yes, well said “Endless First Times”. Xxoo

  11. Vix on January 31, 2014 at 11:12 am

    It is so colourless here too, a sharp contrast to the land I’ve just left behind. I’m looking at those bangles with envy and some nostalgia, my dear Grandma used to delight in fondling mine each time with visited and gasping in joy, such a simple pleasure but something she delighted in.
    Hope your dad’s home soon. Love you. xxx

  12. Feda on February 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    This was beautiful to read. You have a way with storytelling and finding light and strength in those in between moments. It’s so interesting how clothes express our emotions, what we feel, and what we want to feel. Amazing post and I love those boots!! Good find!

  13. pao on February 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Oh Jean, in the midst of everything you can still write beautifully. Such sorrow with moments of delight sprinkled in to make it all bearable. That describes it well, doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing your story.

  14. The Style Crone on February 2, 2014 at 10:24 am

    How beautifully you write about the process that you are experiencing with your beloved parents, connecting your feelings with the beauty of your bracelets and how they facilitate conversation. Accessories can mean so much during difficult times. They have a healing quality.

    Thinking of you often as you navigate unfamiliar territory. I know that you are a great comfort to your parents, as your poignant post portrays.

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