Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: For the Love of Mary Passingham.

Ma in shorts

Dear Love,

I wanted you to know that my great grandmother’s name was Mary Passingham and she was born on the Isle of Wight. And that some day I’m going to write a romance novel and use Mary Passingham as my pen name.

I wanted you to know that I have always had a passion for reading books and I think that was a gift from Mary Passingham.

I wanted you to know that when I was growing up and everyone else in my house was watching television, I read books. And that I dreamed about another life that had nothing to do with the one that I lived.

I wanted you to know that my mother was raised by Mary Passingham and that she died when my older brother was two months old.

And that my mother loved her dearly. I say my mother, “loved dearly” because Mary Passingham was the only person who ever called my mother “dear” while she was growing up.

And I wanted you to know that because Mary Passingham called my mother “dear”, my mother at age ten, would walk two miles to Eaton’s to buy Mary a spool of embroidery thread. Just to be her dear. And because Mary taught my mother how to embroider. And my mother taught me.

I wanted you to know that Mary Passingham had no money but she loved my mother dearly and that once she gave my mother a bottle of Evening in Paris perfume for Christmas. My mother cherished that bottle of perfume. It didn’t matter that it cost only seventeen cents because it was a gift from Mary. And she received no others that year.

I wanted you to know that I never understood why I loved books so much until my mother told me that Mary Passingham spent her days reading books, doing embroidery and growing vegetables in the summer. In the summer my mother and her sisters feasted on Mary’s garden.

And I wanted you to know that Mary taught my mother how to bake bread. And my mother taught me. And that my mother loved sandwiches made with Mary’s homemade bread and lettuce from her garden.

And that I love sandwiches made with my mother’s homemade bread and lettuce freshly picked from her garden.

I wanted you to know that I love to spend my days reading books, doing embroidery and growing vegetables in the summer.

I wanted you to know that Mary Passingham had a china cabinet made of carved oak filled with knick-knacks and trinkets and that my mother polished it for her every Saturday morning.

And that my mother has a china cabinet made of Canadian maple filled with knick-knacks and trinkets but I never spent my Saturdays polishing it. Although I loved that china cabinet.

I don’t have a china cabinet but I have a house filled with knick-knacks and ornaments. And I love them dearly.

I wanted you to know about all these wonderful gifts that Marry Passingham gave to my mother. And my mother gave to me. I never knew Mary Passingham. Only my mother did.

But I wanted you to know that I love my mother dearly just as she did Mary. And even though I never met Mary I loved her dearly too.

Love,

Boo

Footnote: I came across this sweet little piece today while looking for an old story I had written called The Sixteen Jacket. I hadn’t seen it in years and thought it was lost. Both this piece and The Sixteen Jacket were written decades ago when I was a young woman, and long before my mother died. I don’t even remember who “Dear Love” was. I’ve decided to share it unedited, and exactly as I had written it back then, to honor with loving kindness the young blossoming writer that was just beginning to emerge from a veil of shy awkwardness.

Cherished pillow cases embroidered by my mother.

Cherished pillow cases embroidered by my mother.

I spent months embroidering the front of this denim skirt.

I spent months embroidering the front of this denim skirt.

2 thoughts on “Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: For the Love of Mary Passingham.

  1. Such a sweet thread, Boo, one with so many moments of recognition for me. My grandmother (the most modest woman I’ve ever known, who hated to draw attention to herself) sometimes wore Evening in Paris. Just a drop. She didn’t embroider, but my great aunt Raggy did, and she taught me. I embroidered sachet pillows for Christmas presents when I was a child, filled with cotton batting sprinkled with Early American Old Spice powder. I’d stitch the words “Mommy” or “Nana” in aqua thread on pink taffeta. Or I’d sew lap aprons, the 50’s kind gathered in the front with long sashes to tie at the small of the back, on Raggy’s 1926 electric Singer with the knee pedal, which had no reverse. I still have the Singer. Their mother, my great grandmother, was a poet. When I was little, Raggy set me to typing out all her handwritten poems, which I bound in a construction paper cover. These things stay with you forever.

  2. Ah, Silk this is one of the most beautifully and thoughtful comments that anyone has ever left on my blog. So grateful for your wonderful glorious divinely written words. LOVE to you Beauty.

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