For Mother’s Day I wanted to share with you something that I love to remember about my own mum. When I was growing up it was very common for a lady to wear a brooch on a warm woollen coat or on a special dress or winter cardigan. Brooches were worn all year round of course, but more so in the winter months, and it is the winter brooch that Madeleine Di Salvia wore to church that holds the most significant memory for me. Every Saturday morning our family would get ready for church, yes I said Saturday, we were Seventh Day Adventists.
Getting ready for church was always a hurried event in our house, people busily flying from bathroom to bedroom to get dressed in their very best clothes. Mum kept her brooches in a little glass jewellery bowl which sat on her dressing table and I recall seeing the brooch sitting delicately on the right shoulder of her church cardigan or dress from about the time I was eight years old, although I have no idea where she might have gotten this pretty little cut glass item from, or from whom.
The first time I really took notice of it was quite magical to my “little girl” eyes, and took place in the winter of 1964. It was a clear and very crisp winter morning, so cold I could see my breath turn white as I spoke, the steam drifting away into the air around me, as I joined the other children in the church hall. I would arrived at the Church in Vera Street, Tamworth with mum and dad and head off to what was called Sabbath School. This was very much like school scripture lessons, although generally speaking, it was far more fun. Sabbath School was filled with children’s laughter, lots of singing, stories, colouring in and the joy of time with my friends. You must remember that as I was growing up I was not allowed to invite my friends to our house, or play sport on the weekend so, apart from school, church was my only social activity.
That cold winter morning after Sabbath School I walked into the church and took my seat on the cold, hard wooden pew beside mum, ready for the Service which was the main event of the day. There was a very ordered way of seating on the Di Salvia family church pew. Firstly there was my dad, he sat closest to the isle as very often he would have to leave us to help collect the offering with a couple of the other men from the gathered group. Years later I was to learn that this was a very responsible position within the church, but at the time I saw it as some old man taking my hard earned pocket money for no good reason. Beside Dad sat my mother as second position on the pew, followed by me. Many was the morning that I rested my head on Mum’s shoulder and fell into a light sleep during the very tiresome and boring drone of the Ministers voice. Between me and the wall, together as always, sat my little sisters Kim and Kellie.
On this particular morning the whole church congregation had risen from the customary position of prayer – the knees – and were taking their seat on the pews, when a tiny flash of pink and yellow light caught my eye. The coloured light was dancing on the ceiling of the church and instead of listening to the wise words of the Minister, I was craning my neck this way and that, to see where the beautiful light was coming from. Mum was very good at aiming a quick whack to the leg if she thought you were misbehaving in church, and she could cork a muscle better than anyone I would ever meet in my whole life, and that is just what she did to me that morning. It hurts to have a cold leg corked, but as I rubbed the fabric of my dress over the cork sight I watched the light flow over the surface of the ceiling, and that’s when I worked out that the light was dancing from my mother!
It took a while, and lots of sneaky movements, to work out that the watery winter sunshine was hitting mums pretty brooch, and throwing playful coloured lights to the ceiling in one of nature’s prettiest and most delicate displays. The beauty of it had me spellbound for what seemed like hours to the eight year old me, but in fact it would only have been as long as it took the sun to move slowing across the pale blue sky, leaving the surface of mum’s brooch behind.
I can’t tell you how pretty the light show was. There would be different shades of pink, blue and yellow, mauve, blue and green dancing like fireflies against the stark white celling, and I found myself looking forward to this beautiful show far more than I enjoyed any other aspect of going to church. I never told mum or anyone else about the pretty light display I would watch play out on those cold winter mornings in the church. I’m truly not sure why, but it is most likely that I didn’t want people to think I was just plain silly, or naughty for not listening to the Sermon.
This early experience taught me to enjoy beauty in all that I see. Every day, to this very day, I try to see beauty in at least one thing around me. It might be as simple as the beauty of a frost covered sporting field, the delicate shape of a bird in flight, the scent of a pretty flower or the feel of a smooth shell found on a beach, but I let that piece of beauty seep into my day and fill it with joy. I am contstantly amazed at how much more relaxed and happy I feel when I am surrounded by any of nature’s gifts.
When Mum passed away in November of 2000 I was honoured, and filled with joy, to be able to take possession of her beautiful Sabbath brooch, which I plan to pass on to my own granddaughter in time. I have worn the brooch on my winter coats numerous times over the years and often feel that Mum is just that bit closer when I have it on. It is one of my most treasured possessions, not because of it’s worth, for it it only a piece of dress jewellery, but because of the beautiful memories I have of the pretty light display which shone from my Mum.
Happy Mother’s Day mum – love Julie