Like Mother, Like Daughter, Like Vintage Bird Shirt

Essays

The older I get the more I want to be like my mom. When you’re little your parents are superheroes. Then you gradually slide down the inverted bell curve of teenagehood, until one day you stop rolling your eyes at them long enough to realize they are actual human beings. That’s when the graph of being proud to be related to these older, heretofore unrecognized life forms, who may actually know a bit more than you do after all, starts to tick up to the right. When your parent is no longer around, that uptick shoots like a rocket.

I was remembering today how I never really thought one way or the other about whether I looked like my mom until a few years ago I posted some photos of us side by side at the same ages. Nobody would mistake us for twins, but I love that we have the same smile! I’m posting them again in honor of Mother’s Day.

Me and Mom as babies in our strollers.

Me and Mom as babies in our strollers.

These photos are near carbon copies taken 23 years apart. On the right is my great grandpa in a chair holding his granddaughter (my mom) on his lap, looking on while she holds her doll. On the left is my great grandpa in a similar chair, looking on while his great granddaughter (me) holds her doll. I love these photos beyond words.

These photos are near carbon copies taken 23 years apart. On the right is my great grandpa in a chair holding his granddaughter (my mom) on his lap, looking on while she holds her doll. On the left is my great grandpa in a similar chair, looking on while his great granddaughter (me) holds her doll. I love these photos beyond words.

A contest of "Who Wore It Better" 23 years in the making.

A contest of “Who Wore It Better” 23 years in the making.

Three years old and we were both styling the same haircut. And the same "Are you taking my picture now?" expression. Mom's picture is from a photo booth.

Three years old and we were both styling the same haircut. And the same “Are you taking my picture now?” expression. Mom’s picture is from a photo booth.

Five years old and smiling – no doubt about starting kindergarten. We both loved school.

Second grade. Collared shirts and patterned sweaters and still showing our teeth when we smiled.

Second grade. Collared shirts and patterned sweaters and still showing our teeth when we smiled.

Ninth grade. One of my favorite pictures of my mom...not necessarily my favorite picture of me. Mom was hip in her 1968 dress and flip hairdo. I think I was technically sorta hip in my 1991 black silk shirt but Mom definitely made better use of her hairspray than I did.

Ninth grade. One of my favorite pictures of my mom…not necessarily my favorite picture of me. Mom was hip in her 1968 dress and flip hairdo. I think I was technically sorta hip in my 1991 black silk shirt but Mom definitely made better use of her hairspray than I did.

The last picture taken of Mom on our last New Year’s Eve together.

When I was looking for these pictures, I ran across this picture.

The Bird Shirt

The Bird Shirt

This was my all-time favorite shirt of my mom’s. I called it The Bird Shirt, and I thought she looked beautiful in it. When I saw this photo today it flashed in my head that I thought she had saved that shirt, because it was a favorite of hers too. I went to the closet and dug out the box I kept of some of her vintage clothes and there it was…The Bird Shirt!

The Bird Shirt is actually a sweater

Turns out The Bird Shirt is actually an early 1970s Kitty Hawk Industries Ltd sweater with embroidered love birds on the front, and I love it just as much now as I always have. More. Holding in my hands this shirt that is so iconic of my mom in my memory makes me feel closer to her. I’m so glad she saved it all those years ago!

While I was digging through the storage bin I also found the following shirts.

Drink Coca-Cola!

This Coca-Cola shirt that I remember her wearing around the house *all* the time with her white terry cloth shorts!

High School Art Class Tie Dye Magic!

The tie dye shirt my mom made in art class in high school! The light in my living room doesn’t do it justice in the photo. It’s beautiful shades of peach and pink and yellow and white. She told me some of her classmates liked hers so much they asked her to make ones for them, but alas, an entrepreneur she was not.

Stop taking my picture!

I found a photo of her wearing the tie dye shirt while talking on the phone in their (my parent’s) first apartment.

Where did you come from, shirt?

I literally have no idea on the origin story of this Virginia is for lovers shirt, but I am totally on board for it. It’s soft and worn and I love the vintage look of it. Based on the cut and the size, I’m guessing it must have been my dad’s? To the best of my knowledge, neither of my parents ever visited Virginia to pick up a tourist shirt, but I never got to ask my mom about it, so I guess it will remain a mystery!

Wait! Breaking news on the mystery! I just noticed this picture of my dad and me. Could this be the Virginia shirt he’s sleeping in?! I mean, it *could* be? I don’t have my forensic tools on me at the moment, but…who knows?!

Anyway, moving on…

Button up!

Pretty sure this button-up beauty *was* my dad’s. There’s no label, the fabric is so threadbare it’s practically see-through, and the sleeves are nearly completely ripped off in the back, but I love the colors! And it’s so soft!

Digging up this treasure chest was a great way to spend Mother’s Day. I’m going to wash the tees up and see if I can wear them. Although, I don’t see how the neck of the tie dye is even going to fit over my head. It’s tiny! If I can’t wear them, I am going to do something with them other than store them in a bin in the back of the closet. Finding these shirts, especially the ones I so vividly remember as “Mom” in my childhood, brings her back in different way than anything else of hers that I have. I feel like some sort of “shirt fabric/fabric of time” semi-serious, semi-jokey reference could be made here, but as the popular saying in my house when I was growing up goes, “Let’s not, and say we did.” Instead, I’ll end with one more of my favorite pictures for Mother’s Day.

We were both so young!

10 thoughts on “Like Mother, Like Daughter, Like Vintage Bird Shirt

  1. I love this! Such fun pictures and showing them side by side is amazing! I don’t remember most of the shirts but so fun you have them all and pics of them n use. I think you might be right about your dad wearing the I Love Virginia shirt in the picture! Great reading!

    Sent from my iPad

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  2. It’s funny how pictures help keep memories alive, or re-create them altogether.

    I don’t know you, but I Kinda do, just through the whole social media thing. So today when I was at the harbor treating my mother to fish and chips, thoughts of you and Melinda crossed my mind, and I mean that sincerely.

    I want to make some joke about how my mom Isn’t going to remember today by the time she puts her head on the pillow tonight, but jokes like that aren’t funny — not anymore anyway.

    So keep writing. Preserve things. Keep her alive as long as you’re alive. In that sense, and I truly believe this, she lives as long as you live, and that’s a beautiful thing.

    1. Thanks, Roy. I thought about you and your mom too. I’m sure she had a good day with you today whether she’ll remember it tomorrow or not. She’s very lucky to have you.

  3. Aw, I love this post. And I might now be regretting all the clothes I’ve gotten rid of over the past few years. You and your mom do look so much alike. I’m glad you were able to have a good day remembering her. And can I just say: Her shoes in that last pic are fabulous!

    1. Rita!! So good to see you again! I’ve gotten rid of some stuff that I later wish I hadn’t, but I am thankful for the things I still have. And very thankful for pictures of some of the things that are gone! As for the shoes, I know, right?!

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