By Joanne Gepp
My mother died after years of illness, when I was in my twenties. I remember her life constricting around her, in ever decreasing circles as her disabilities overcame her. She moved from a house to an apartment to a nursing home. Her possessions were sold or bequeathed to me and my brothers as she progressed towards death. Then she died, quietly and peacefully, leaving me very few possessions to deal with.
So, my mother was buried, and I was left with her purse. We sat and stared at each other, the purse and I, throughout a rainy, wintery day. That purse embodied my mother. I just had to push it gently and I would get a delicate waft of ‘mum scent’. I did that for hours. Two days later I finally opened the purse and had to quickly walk away. I felt I was destroying the last shreds of my mother by going into her purse. It personified her; it was like the hard hug for the hurt feelings of childhood, the gentle backstroking for a broken-hearted teenager, the comfort for a young woman who had lost her mother.
It took me two years to finally empty her purse and pass it on. It was such a painful pleasure to delve into that purse, like a child with candy. I went there when I felt hurt and alone. I kept her wallet and her perfume as the final memories of the best unconditional love there is – the love of a mother.
It is over 25 years since my mother died and I still sniff that perfume bottle when I need her with me. My daughters are still very young, but I sometimes wonder how they will fare when I am gone, just leaving a purse behind, packed with powerful memories.
About the Author: Joanne Gepp is the winner of Mothers & More Power of the Purse Essay Contest. She is English, and 5 years ago moved to America with her husband Stuart and two young daughters (now aged 7 and 8 years). After a few months of desperation and loneliness she discovered Mothers & More and was happily engulfed into the warmth and friendship of her local chapter.
About Mothers & More: Mothers & More are a grassroots, volunteer-driven organization, connecting mothers via a network of both virtual and local communities throughout the United States.
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