I am enough
by Ruth Neuwald Falcon, Seattle, WA

When I was a little girl, I had a beautiful royal blue dress that I wanted to wear every day (a real testament to how much I loved it, as my usual everyday preference was pants, which my school forbade girls to wear). My mother did not agree. “You have to save it for special occasions,” she’d say every time I wanted to pull it out of the closet. “You could tear it or get spots on it. Put it back.”

When she was dying, my mother told me a story she’d never shared with me before. “When I was a young woman in Germany,” she said, “I had a beautiful silk blouse. I kept it wrapped in tissue, to protect it, in the cedar chest. I wanted to bring it with me when I escaped to this country.” My mother didn’t cry a lot when she was dying, at least not in front of me, but now she paused and I could see the tears filling her eyes. “When I took it out of the chest, out of its wrapping, I found that it was in shreds. The moths had gotten to it. It broke my heart.”

I don’t remember the occasion that finally came along which my mother felt was special enough for her to pull the royal blue dress out of the closet for me to wear. But when I put it on—or tried to—I could barely get it over my shoulders. There was no way that we could sausage me into it. I never wore it.

For the past year or more, I’ve been wearing the same pair of opal stud earrings. Last week, I started wearing different earrings every day, earrings that my mother gave me forty years ago, earrings my oldest friend sent me for my birthday ten years ago. Today, I put on a necklace, a tree of life, that my friend June gave me twenty years ago. Tomorrow, I will put on a tiny rose in what looks like plexiglass that a family friend gave my aunt sixty years ago. The next day, a green and black choker my friend Sheila made and gave me a few years back.

I am alone. I see no one, except the occasional person I give wide berth to on my daily walks. I am, at long last, learning the lessons my mother didn’t learn from the shredded silk blouse. There is no time but the present. I value myself. I am enough, and deserve to wear beautiful things, given with love.

Photo by Ruth Neuwald Falcon

8 Comments

  1. Yes, yes! I concur. That one takes a long time for most of us to learn. I am still learning. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  2. You are enough… And then some. What a beautiful story you so beautifully wrote. I’m going to be on the lookout for blue silk dresses that I haven’t been wearing; maybe try them on for size. It’s an apt metaphor for experiences I have been putting off experiencing. Thank you; and thank you for providing a safe and readable container for sharing truths. Very rich indeed.

    Sent from my iPhone; please forgive typos

    >

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  3. I loved this piece about saving precious things for the future, though the future never comes because what arrives is the present! Thank you, dear Ruth for putting your thoughts out to all of us at this tender time of our lives. May we benefit from your lesson learned! Ellin

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  4. Yes. Yes to your heartfelt reminences, yes, you are enough, yes to dressing and wearing our jewelry just because it pleases us.
    In the before times Richard bought me some cotton tops in my favorite store for my birthday to replace some older tees. I was “saving” them for a future when we were with others. A few days ago I realized how silly that was, they are just so much more comfortable than any thing else I have. I’ve been wearing and enjoying them everyday since.

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