Quilt of love

I found the box at the back of the closet when I was looking for some papers. It seemed old and forgotten. It still had the stamps that my mom had used when she mailed it to me fifteen years ago. In her attempts to keep the past alive, she started mailing heirlooms, mementos and pictures once she decided to leave  Iran. At first it was a hassle to go to the post office and to find a place for the newly arrived items in my small apartment. I opened packages one after  the other and was amazed at what I would find inside. She sent everything from pictures to heavy blankets that kept us warm in Tehran’s cold Winters to the clock that sat on the mantel over the fireplace for years. It seemed to me that she would walk around the house looking around desperately, trying to choose the items that brought the most memories alive for her. It took me awhile to realize her intentions. After that I just stored the stuff and tried to fix the ones that had been damaged during the shipping.

I looked at the box once more. The passage of time had its marks on it. In it, I found pictures. Pictures of  my father and his friends, some of whom I never met, during their hiking excursions; my favorite picture of my sister showing her standing near the water pump when she was about three years old; my mom’s picture showing her bending over a large pot of shole-zard (a popular Persian dish) on an open fire. I came across  my parents’ wedding picture where they  stood side by side without
holding hands. You could tell they barely knew each other at the time. I found a baby picture of mine. It showed a happy beautiful kid with a sweet smile. My mother says I had a good disposition as a child. The one picture that stood out was my grandmothers when she was about eight or nine. I have been told that it is her. She barely resembled the old woman that I remembered. There were hardly any similarities between the two. Their foreheads looked more or less the same. The  little girl had a serious face and a skinny body. It seemed she knew that a hard life lied ahead of her. As an adult, grandma kept the serious face. It took a lot to make her laugh. I came across the picture that I took of her before I left Iran. The picture showed her at her prayer mat with a string of prayer beads in her right hand. It was after her noon prayer. The sun shined on the wall behind her where the samovar was. I can still smell the Darjeeling tea that she brewed all day long. I put the two pictures side by side. It was amazing to see how passage of time deteriorates one physically. It seemed every line in Grandam's face and her fragile body represented an event, a memory, something of a significance that had happened in her large family, seven kids to be exact.

I guess I was not really interested to find the papers after all. I took the box to the living room and sat on the floor near the sliding door  where there was plenty of  sunlight. I spread the pictures around me looking for memories of my past and my family's.  There were plenty of small passport like individual ones, mostly of my sister and me and some of our parents. I guess we had to have them taken each Fall for the new school year. Like grandma, I looked rather serious in all of them.

There were plenty of family pictures with my aunts, uncles and cousins.  In some of them I was old enough to remember the occasion. There was one taken at my grandparents’ house with all my seven aunts and uncles and their children. My grandparents were at the center sitting on a couple of wooden chairs surrounded by everyone else. I stood next to my dad holding his hand. I can still feel his warm hand and the endless love that he had for his family. My sister was on my grandfather's lap looking at my mom who stood behind them. Everyone looked cheerful and dressed up. The picture was taken on the first day of the new year. I must have been 6 or 7 years old. I remembered how much I liked my new dress and shoes even though the shoes were rather uncomfortable. I came cross my uncle's wedding pictures. They were quite different than my parents’. The pictures showed a more intimate couple holding hands and looking at each other affectionately. Her dress showed more skin and her make up was bolder.

The pictures that showed me together with my sister and our parents brought back many sweet and bitter memories. They covered various occasions spanning over 12 years. I remembered how much I loved the long walks that I took with my dad early in the mornings; how much I loved the warm Summer nights when we slept on the roof gazing at the stars listening to my dad talking about the universe; how much I loved the Spring and all the rituals that our family and specially mom went through to celebrate the new year; how much I enjoyed the closeness and the love that my parents created in our small family. They had come along way since they posed for their wedding picture. I remembered how much I admired mom for her persistence to make things better for her family; I remembered my mixed emotions when I left Iran for the first time. I felt an unbelievable sense of sadness when I came across the pictures that were taken after my father's death. They were mostly of mom with friends and family. I sensed her loneliness and shared her sorrow. There are some things in life that one never forgets and just
learns to live with. I guess that is what mom, my sister and I managed to do with our grief after dad passed away.

I must have spent hours looking through the pictures. I started arranging them like a family tree. Goli, my little niece, was supposed to spend the night at my place. I thought that was a wonderful way to spend the evening with her. I was going to tell her the story of her family and their fantastic journey through life. I wished I could have made a quilt out of the pictures and wrapped it around her. Perhaps she would feel the love and passion that had brought her to existence. I was not sure how long she would wait before she asked for the video of her parents’ wedding. Besides the sexy wedding gown, her favorite part is
when her dad kisses her mom after she finally says "I do". As for me I am happy they did not have to stand side by side like two strangers. They had an easier time to get to know each other before they got married. I just wish they will be as lucky as my parents to stay together through thick and thin and to appreciate each other while their journey lasts.

October 1997