This week the days are the commonly cold days of New England. December darkness grows, falling earlier upon us each day. Some mornings it can be just that little bit harder to pry ourselves out of the how shower and into the cold car. Many of us somehow stumble through our commutes as if on autopilot. Even if we don’t speak to one another en route, I’m glad there is a flock of us watching out of the corners of our eyes in case someone drops a glove, leaves a lunch or, heaven forbid, a laptop on the commuter rail.
I gathered my belonging to depart the train car earlier this week when the cell phone rang. A call at this hour usually is someone at home who can’t find something essential for the day, or last minute instructions for the ride home even if I haven’t gotten to the office yet.
But in this instance, it was a call from the farmer who works the land Mom owned in the family farm partnership. How wonderful to begin a day thinking about crops, corn, soybeans and combines instead of the computer work ahead of me in my office.
It was as the bus turned one of its corners that the phrase came to me, “the mantle of our responsibilities.” Often these phrases come and lodge in the brain sector for “possibly nice blog titles.” But I had to pause and consider: was I really wearing a “mantle”? What is a mantle, anyway? As I step into a few more duties now that Mom has passed on, if I have a mantle in the first place, is it heavier now?
I decided right then that “mantle” was probably not the best word for what is carried, though I have yet to look up its true definition. Rather, I think what I wear is patchwork. I have many patchwork quilts in various states of repair or despair, bequeathed to me from Mom, aunts, and two grandmothers. My duties, like the patches, seem to be in different quadrants quite distinct from one another, yet I hope they are connected to a coherent tapestry.
There must be more to ponder on this idea, but it will have to wait until another day. Until then, I hope the seams in this current quilt hold together. It’s not only cold, but busy out here, and I need the comfort and the stitches it holds of love gone by but that still remains.