My Parents

June 18, 2015

M&D shaving

She would always point her finger at him and say, “Don’t you die before me!” as if that settled it.  After all, he did everything for her, handling all the bills and business, organizing their lives neatly and logically.  She was able to increasingly immerse herself in pleasant, quiet activities.  After raising five children, she treasured the loveliness of being able to read for hours and tending her plants, spending quiet, unchallenging years together while exchanging small talk.  She had learned early on that he wasn’t good for conversations concerning the meaning of life, spirituality, or deeper contemplations of culture and art, things she loved.  She accepted what he willingly offered, and in return she was patient with him and acquiesced to most of his preferences.


They were a couple of their time, and as such, they navigated it with enormous respect and integrity.

Joey and I took her for a drive today.  She was perplexed when we returned to the assisted living place, not understanding how she got there.  She recognized it but was not able to understand the reality of the present moment. Afterwards, I sat with her and explained I’d be gone for a week, showing her the calendar.  She looked confused and hurt, saying she felt abandoned but realizing that she “shouldn’t” feel that way because I’d be back.  The sadness and loss in her eyes, her disorientation and fragility, were overwhelming.  She never talks about him, but my physical presence is her touchstone.  It’s her connection to everything from her childhood, to her marriage of 68 years, to the totality of her life.


Her tenuous grip on life, and her courage in trying to make the best of it, shatter my heart with love and loss.  So this is life’s crucible, refining love through the pain of loss.  I hope you didn’t think the title Dross into Gold was just about clothes.  In this case, it serves as a metaphor.


It’s my turn to navigate the inevitable journey, the twists and turns of life, the endings and the beginnings.

I’ll be back with clothes, however.  Mom is going to model some Dross into Gold pieces for me and I promise the photoshoot will be fabulous.  She’s already practicing, and loves to pose.

Mom's prayer

Here she’s praying for a ride in our Miata, the “little red convertible”.  I never knew she loved cars!  I suspected, however, that she had a theatrical streak!  Umm, yeah.

I have to thank Judith of Style Crone for sending me wonderful books throughout this journey, including Passages in Caregiving by Gail Sheehy, and In the Midst of Winter edited by Mary Jane Moffat.  These excellent books came at just the right time.  Social media can work miracles of connection, for sure.

Thank you for being here.  I love each and every one of you.  XXOO





14 Responses to My Parents

  1. Vix on June 18, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Such a beautifully written piece, dearest Jean. That confusion and look of hurt and despair is truly horrible, although in my Dad’s case, its only fleeting and off he wanders to wait outside the kitchen for his next meal.
    I can’t wait to see your Mum dressed in some of your creations. Your parents were such an attractive couple, I can see where you get your good looks from. xxx

  2. Jazzy Jack on June 18, 2015 at 7:02 am

    Ah life, what a journey.
    I love your Mum modelling your armlets. And praying for a ride.
    Looking forward to the fashion parade!
    My Mum’s been doing some catwalk stuff recently too :-) xo Jazzy Jack

  3. pao on June 18, 2015 at 9:02 am

    This is heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. And there’s no way around it. I still recall my Mom in the same state you’ve described, the confusion, disorientation, disbelief. And me with the calendar trying to help somehow. Thank you for the pictures and sharing your experience so eloquently, which was mine and all of ours, sooner or later.

  4. Suzanne on June 18, 2015 at 11:06 am

    What a well written heartfelt post.

    I must admit when my Grandmother no longer knew who I was it was difficult to continue to relate to her. She still had her great spirit in the end and was happy to talk about whatever, even though she never knew exactly who she was talking to. I can’t imagine how difficult and frustrating it must be for them.

    I look forward to seeing your Mom wearing some of your creations.


  5. The Style Crone on June 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Your writing in this piece, accompanied by photos, is touching and very poignant. Loss, love, memories, the present moment. Your understanding and keen perceptions of your parents and their relationship. They were beautiful as a young couple, and their allure was even more pronounced as they aged. The first photo speaks a thousand words. Dross has always been a metaphor for life!

    Take care as you navigate the caring for your mother during this time. So unpredictable and precious. Your love for your parents shines through your words and your actions. Looking forward to your mother as model!

    Thank you for your kind words. Reading is as healing as outfits! xoxo

  6. Curtise on June 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Oh Jean. What a beautifully touching post. You write with such honesty and clarity about the tough stuff, and that isn’t easy to do.
    I love seeing the photos of your parents together, and look forward to your mum’s modelling debut!
    Refining our love in life’s crucible, through the fiery pain of loss. Oh wow.
    Take care, lovely Jean. xxx

  7. Rosalind jana on June 18, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    This is so beautiful, so real. The image of your mum’s hands makes my breathing feel raw for a moment.
    When my mum’s mum died when I was 5, it was left to my mum to care for her maternal grandma (my great grandma) through the long decline of dementia. And during that time, she also cared for her father (my grandad) . I was distanced from it by adolescence, but now I look at her and at you, and at the great tenderness with which you undertake your role, and I’m just glad that there are such strong, loving women in the world, like you and my mum.

  8. Melanie on June 18, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Your writing about your family is very moving, Jean, beyond what I expect in blog posts, and welcome. How hard it is and how precious this aging business. The photos are beautiful. It’s heartwarming that your Mother looks forward to modeling your clothing, and to discover she likes sports cars. I guess the surprises never end, do they. Thanks for the reminder. ox

  9. Forest City Fashionista on June 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Oh Jean, your perceptive comments about your parents in this post touch my heart as I think about my own parents’ marriage which contained more suffering than joy. It is so hard to watch them age, and become frail and lonely (my father died over 10 years ago). My mother’s world has become very small. Caring for a family member can be exhausting, physically and mentally, so be sure to care for yourself too.

  10. Jean on June 23, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Thank you all for your comments. I haven’t had the time to respond individually but i deeply appreciate you. I found writing this post (through my tears) was hugely cathartic, and I’m grateful. Thanks again for being here. XXOO

  11. joni@artfulcloset on June 25, 2015 at 12:36 am

    Such a sweet story Jean, I’m glad you were able to share in this way. Can’t wait to see the fashion show!

    • Jean on June 25, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks Joni!! I’m looking forward to it. XXOO

  12. Veshoevius on June 29, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    This was a very moving post Jean and made me think of my grandparents on my father’s side, now both gone – also a couple of their time. I look forward to seeing your mother modelling your creations xx

  13. Feda on August 6, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    So touching. I felt every word and can relate to them. You said it, “refining love through the pain of loss”. Life’s happy ending is what we make it. Sending love to your mama and your dad’s soul, rest in peace. Xoxo

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