White Shirt

Hope, eclipsed this golden morning by old,
Aching wounds and survival


Apart from you. I am surrounded
by such wrinkled beauty


And my capacity to remember
to be at home with it
may be what saves me:


Pieces together becoming
a sweet and generous memorial


In my soul – your smells, your eyes, your smile.
Hope, wrapped
(intertwined really)
in the remarkable pleasure
of confiding
in a cherished friend


How I miss you.


Enjoying your unconditional presence
Softening patiently

Hope, this evening I recall it.

White Shirt was sewn from fragments of fabric cut from the contributions below

Judith Barslovsky Oberman – d. 2000 at 98 years old

I remember how you patiently taught me to embroider when I was a young girl…I have cherished your yellow crocheted sweater as it was one of your favourites. Your mastery of these crafts began this family chain that has flowed from you through the generations.

Florence Vigod – d. 2007 at 87 years old

In 1994, I moved to Victoria, BC where I lived for 6½ years. My mother came to visit me twice. Both times we went to Seattle…This piece of clothing was purchased at the store of a local designer…This top always makes me think of the good times we had in Seattle. I still remember going to the restaurant called Flying Fish and my mother, who had a real sweet tooth, ordering her favourite dessert...She was in heaven...After she died, we returned to Flying Fish on Mother's Day...We toasted my mother and all the good times we shared together.

Hili Lindberg – d. 2005 at 84 years old

My mother loved colourful silk scarves and collected them. She thought of herself as an extremely practical person and mostly she was…This is a way for me to honour her pleasure in things that are not strictly necessary or practical. Life should be about more than survival.

Betty Cosby Stevens – d. 2007 at 83 years old

It smells of your perfume…As I sit here now, I can recall so many times when you were wearing this shirt as we visited - out on the screened porch looking at the lake, you with a glass of your favourite red in your hand, the sun setting across the water, the water causing our laughter to bounce back on us so that it seemed everything around was laughing, rejoicing. How I loved you then and how good it felt to be wrapped in your sisterly love for me...I still love you, Betty, and truly believe that your unconditional love continues to surround me even as I grieve the loss of your physical presence. Until we meet again...

Olga De Simone – d. 2004 at 78 years old

My mother was only 18 in 1943 when she designed, sewed, and embroidered five nightdresses that would become the first pieces in her hope chest…She could have become so many things. But she chose to become a wife and mother, a seamstress, an immigrant, an embroider of lives...She was a lover of poetry and song and beauty and, in my eyes, that essence is captured in this handmade garment of her youth.

Earl C. Allaway – d. 1998 at 69 years old

This is about the man that wore the championship Blue Jays t-shirt. Earl was a widower and father of two when he came into my life and stayed. Remarkable! Why, you ask - I was the single mother of five…How many men would have the capacity to raise two of his own children and take on the job of raising five more...We were together for 18 years when he passed away. We can't feel saddened over the loss of those we love without first remembering the joy of loving them. The real sadness would have been never having had them in our lives at all.

George Scott – d. 2007 at 67 years old

Dear George...I'm looking at the sweatshirt your kindergarten children gave you when you retired as principal. It was the only article of clothing I didn't give away…I know how much you enjoyed wearing it - a reminder of your many years working with children. This piece of clothing is such an appropriate memorial for you.

Terry Donaldson – d. 2007 at 64 years old

This shirt belonged to my dear husband, Terry, who was diagnosed with ALS…Together we tried to find joy in every day, whether it was a sunset, great cup of coffee or a visit from friends and family. He never forgot to thank me for my care or tell me how much he loved me.

Lucia Iacono – d. 2007 at 63 years old

This is the dress you were wearing when you went from being my boyfriend's mom to becoming my mother-in-law. I remember you looking so beautiful and elegant. I always remember my mom saying "Being a mother-in-law is a very hard job, you are either too involved or not involved enough. It's a job you always lose at, so always be nice to your mother-in-law." Being nice to you was never a job I had to work at. I lucked out in that department...I look at this dress and I am so glad that you came into my life.

Peter Masak – d. 2004 at 46 years old

My brother, Peter, wasn't the sort of guy who cared what he wore. In his spare time, he would most often be dressed in a wrinkled old t-shirt from a gliding competition and a pair of jeans covered in glue and paint from making winglets for gliders. But his big smile, twinkling eyes and generous heart eclipsed his sometimes shabby appearance...He was not interested in talking about himself. He was interested in you. That's why he didn't care what he wore. He didn't look at clothes. He looked at you and saw the beauty in your soul.

Edward T. Milbourne, Jr. – d. 1997 at 42 years old

Edward T. Milbourne, Jr. wore this shirt. Ed always loved the outdoors. Ed lived to fulfill his dream of owning a home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Another of Ed's dreams was to own a Harley Davidson motorcycle…Unfortunately, he died before this dream came true. He did own a Honda motorcycle (but it just wasn't the same as a Harley). He loved to go riding with his friends...Ed is loved and missed very much by everyone who knew him.

Philip Andrew Bean – d. 2007 at 40 years old

Philip, you were the world's biggest McDonald's fan and to prove it, you had a McKid's sweatshirt that you loved…The first sign of morning or evening chill and on went the white sweatshirt with the big golden arches…I was so used to hugging you while you wore it that in the weeks after you died, I wore it a lot because it felt like you...That sweatshirt was a part of you and I will miss it, but not nearly as much as I miss you.

Alexander (Sasha) Kalaba – d. 2000 at 17 years old

I saved all of Sasha's clothes but whenever I think about him this shirt always stands out…When he died I went to the basement and I saw his clothes ready to be washed. I picked up the clothing and there was still his scent on them but he was gone. I wanted to keep this smell forever so I didn't wash them. In the first weeks, I prayed to God just to let me see him once more...I could sit all day and night in one room on the floor; I didn't need anything. I felt I was totally apart, my whole body was aching...The pain was unbearable...I went to Bereaved Families until I felt I could survive on my own. When I asked how you survive this kind of tragedy, someone would respond, "You can't get over this but you learn to live with it." This is the truth...Sasha is always present with us.

Lisa Judith Spitzer – d. 1981 at 15 3/4 years old

Our Lisa Judith was bright, intelligent, full of life. She was on the way to becoming my friend. She confided as much or even more than a teenager confides in a mother…Lisa wore this outfit to the last Bar Mitzvah she attended before her surgery. She was so thrilled with the outfit; she looked so beautiful, with baby's breath intertwined in her hair...There is no such thing as closure - one doesn't heal from the death of a child. The only thing that happens is that as each day passes into a month and a month becomes a year, there is a softening of the wound.

Yael Koren – d. 2000 at 15 1/2 years old

I look at that t-shirt with the cartoon guy, funny grin on his face and gesturing with his outstretched arms saying, "Whatever," and I laugh each time I see it. I think of you saying the same thing many times, Yael, in response to different situations…I remember with pain, with happiness, with sadness, but above all, I remember, and Yael's melody plays in the background of my mind all the time.

Laura Haffey – d. 1984 at 6 years old

Laura's strong affection for her Smurf pyjamas was instant. As soon as she opened the present on her 5th birthday, the love affair began...Laura's Smurf pyjamas were faded and lopsided from all the love and attention they received…They became a metaphor for the way Laura lived her life. Her life was lived on her loving, trusting and somewhat unconventional terms.