Carolyn J. Rose
The towel, once a bright turquoise, was the last of several my mother bought for the guest bathroom in our house in Eugene, Oregon, a house we sold in 1994. She bought those towels to match one of the colors in a shower curtain I sewed. It was a perfect match and the towels brightened the room.
I loved them, but she never seemed satisfied with the choice. No matter how many times I told her they were just what I wanted, she sighed and said she should have kept searching for a color just a little more subdued.
Which says something about our personalities. I am seldom drawn to subdued colors. I liked the towels because they were vibrant, because they made the windowless room brighter, because they claimed their space, because they were there.
Did my mother wish I had been more subdued? Possibly. Probably. Definitely at times.
Ours was like many mother-daughter relationships—a little uneasy, a little explosive, a little as good as it gets.
The towels were among the last gifts she gave me, so they’ve stayed with me far longer than others, making the transition to hot-tub towels, to gym towels, and now to dust cloths. The next transition will be to the trash.
I tell myself towels are just things and that letting go of things isn’t the same as letting go of memories, letting go of my mother.
Somehow, though, I don’t quite believe it.