My Mother’s Goneness

Small tweed and leather purse. Photo by BF Newhall

My mother liked her purse’s tweedy, sporty look. Photos by BF Newhall.

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

My mother is gone. But when she died she left a few things behind, a battered old purse and a small sofa she liked to call the loveseat. The loveseat had followed her from Birmingham, Michigan, to Phoenix, and finally to California, where it moved into and out of three different assisted living facilities.

Some people preferred to sit across the room from my mother when they visited. But I always wound up on that loveseat, alongside her.

Sde chair with pink floral needlepoint. Photo by BF Newhall

The needlepointed chair.

After my mother died, I managed to leave the loveseat behind in her last residence, along with my father’s mahogany dresser. My brothers and I had already given away the chair she’d needlepointed with blowsy pink roses.

But I still have a closet-full of my mother’s old things. Her herringbone and leather purse, for one. She’d used it day in and day out for the last months and years of her life. It was worn out and smudged, but she refused to give it up.

My brother had given her that purse, but if he tried to replace it, she’d admire the new one dutifully then stash it in her closet or, more likely, underneath the loveseat.

Toward the end, my mother had very little to put in that old tweed purse — some tissue, a single credit card and an otherwise empty wallet — but  she’d sling it over the handle of her walker and take it with her whenever she went, to dinner in the assisted living dining room or off to lunch at Nordstrom with me. My mother liked that purse.

I thought of adding a photo here of my mother holding court on her famous loveseat. But that would miss the point of these picture, which is to record my mother’s goneness.

Love seat with plaid upholstery fabric. Photo by BF Newhall.

The loveseat.

pink needlepointed chair upside down in back of pick-up truck. Photo by BF Newhall.

We gave the needlepointed chair away.

If this story resonated with you, you might want to read The Trouble With Daffodils.



  1. […] stories about my mother at “My Mother’s Goneness”  and “A Manners-Challenged Kid Who Became the Apple of His Grandma’s Eye.” […]

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