Growing up, we had a box full of dress-up clothes in the garage. My mom would add to it, throwing in our old halloween costumes - most of which she sewed herself - along with wigs, oversized dresses, overalls, feather boas, and funny hats. My sister and I got it out whenever we wanted to play dress-up or give our baby brother a makeover.
Sara, as the older sister, had full reign when it came to my hair and makeup. She would gently comb out my tangles, then try to coax my stubbornly flat hair into curls. Then she would find a dark lipstick and practice getting it just right, like a kid with a coloring book, determined to stay within the lines. She has always taken her role as my big sister seriously.
As I grew older, the box remained relevant. We hosted annual halloween youth group parties at our house, and my mom would find the box and let my friends rummage through it to create a costume so we could go out trick-or-treating. I can’t even count how many teenages wore the mullet wig and fringed cowboy vest over the years.
If you know my mom, she has probably given you a stick of gum during church, or handed your fussing baby a toy from her purse. This week, I found a huge box on my doorstep. It was full of her old clothes - ones she was getting rid of but thought I’d like. She was right. I have been wearing them all week. She always knows what people will like.
The women in my family are always observing, analyzing, and trying to predict what someone might want or need next. When we had people over for dinner or a get-together, my mom always had some kind of game planned, “just in case.” “We don’t need a game,” the family would tell her, but then, consistently, there would be a group sitting in the living room or around a firepit and she would start explaining the instructions. Minutes later, people were laughing, shouting, and coming out of their shells.
Only my mom could get the shy kid in the youth group to dress up like batman, or the proper lady at church to show her competitive side. When I had my friends over, I would often find them downstairs at the kitchen table, telling my mom their problems. Which wasn’t a problem. Because I always knew that she was someone I needed to share with others. That God had given her the gift of empathy, and that there were more than enough sticks of gum in her purse. More than enough costumes in the box.
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