Thursday, July 12, 2012

Following mom's feet

Soon after my mom passed, I piled up all my red and brightly colored clothes, bundled them together in a furoshiki, and relegated that to a corner of my closet. I wouldn't be wearing them for three years: the culturally appropriate mourning period for a parent.

A couple weekends ago -- only about halfway into the prescribed period -- I painted my toenails red, a color I haven't used since I-don't-remember-when.

Why did I commit such a faux pas?!

For one thing, those "rules" only loosely apply to me because I wasn't born in the home country, and we aren't there now.

But the real reason -- the one that makes most sense to me -- is because rather than miss and mourn my mom, which I do all the time anyway without even thinking of it, I wanted to intentionally celebrate and be like her (which Ikind of am anyway thanks to genetics).

When I still lived with my parents, my Mom and I had a weekly Sunday night ritual: I'd give her a manicure and/or pedicure; she always had French manicured fingernails and red toenails. We'd chat a little about our day or week, and then mostly read or write -- or in my mom's case, household bookkeeping and such -- in our own little words, but right next to each other.


Last weekend, my dad and I went to the cemetery to visit Mom's grave. I hadn't been there since my birthday. And it felt especially right to be there with my red toenails. I think she would have been glad about them.

Someone I know would call this, "Saying 'yes' to life." I think that's why it felt so good. And I think my mom would have agreed.


  1. What does the bottom of tombstone say?

  2. "Vô cùng thương tiếc" means "extremely mourn"; the next line says friends and relatives; the last line says husband, children, and grandchild.

  3. I never met your mom, but knowing you and knowing that she raised you, I am sure that she would love the red toenails.

  4. Thanks, Marsha. I always appreciate your encouragement.