A trip to mom’s reminds me of where we started.

My mom recently died. My siblings and I sorted through her stashes of memories, treasures and oddities.  I ran across a special suitcase. 

May 1996 – An idea was born to help kids in need of comfort and put together a group of people who want to volunteer on their own time to fit their busy schedules.  Binky Patrol started this simply and has grown to over 160 chapters.

My mother was my biggest fan, as mothers tend to be.  Any idea I had she assured me I could make it a success.  It didn’t matter what it was – she supported me with all of her heart.  She supported my dedication to an idea and committment to carry things through to the end.

When my siblings and I went through my mom’s house, we found so many keepsakes and stashes if items from all of us that she wanted to keep — even if she had no interest in displaying.  Only so much room when you have six children and their families!  There was a suitcase.  A homely, green, “flower power” zipper suitcase of canvas — like they type you would use to spend the weekend at Grandma’s.  Irony is, now that I have the suitcase, my daughter can’t use it for this exact type of outing. 

Meloncholy aside, inside the suitcase was a treasure! This suitcase was filled with history and love. There was a stash of fabric.  Not ordinary or typical binky fabric; but odd fabric from the first donated fabric batch we received our first month in 1996.  This fabric came from a local picture framer, Mirage Framing.  I used them while I had my art gallery to frame beautiful fine art prints by Dale TerBush and other custom orders.  The fabric was mainly dark blues, greens, blacks and teals.  The textures were from faux silks and linens to polished rayons and cottons.  Not your typical binky fabric.  I was such an inexperienced sewer when we started Binky Patrol, my mom was the first volunteer – she was less experienced than I and looked to me for direction of how to sew these things…. what a joke!

In this suitcase, the fabric was accompanied by a square pattern cut from leftover matboard — also from the framer.  We used to cut out squares for our volunteers to help them do it right… (another joke!).  Mom and I would trace these squares onto the back of the fabric — with chalk if it was black — real chalk — didn’t know about the kind quilters use — and then measure in 1/2″ to make the seam line.  We would cut on the first line and sew on the second.   We knew nothing about strip piecing or shortcuts.  The fabric in the suitcase had the lines my mom had drawn. There were our notes from the meeting.  I began to cry. 

I cried and cried at the joy of the support she gave me as I began Binky Patrol and adjusted to all of the sudden growth as we gained momentum across the country.  My mom dealt with Alzheimer’s throughout most of Binky Patrol.  She would go in and out of wanting to make binkies to keep herself busy to “I’m done with sewing — I used to do it…” and wanting to help out with the purchase of postage when we had absolutely no money to move another inch.  This was a love we both shared — caring for kids that people had forgotten, kids who were afraid and those who didn’t believe that someone cared.  My mom had genuine concern for these kids more than any others.  We talked about them frequently.

I was reminded of the annual meeting in 2000 at her home.  We flooded her home with people from the entire county, the press and recipients.  It was the largest group she’d ever had — and was quite vocal to say it wouldn’t happen again!  I’m glad we did it.  That was the last annual meeting she attended.  She didn’t go to many binky functions after that. 

There was one day in 2001 that we were invited to speak on KSBR radio.  Carolyn Berndt and I were to be intereviewed; but she had to bring her daughter.  Mom said she wanted to come help.  I was so happy.  She ended up keeping Milena Berndt – then 3 – occupied with crayons while Carolyn and I had the interview.  She did her part — no matter what it was.

Mom helped me get kick started with something she taught me as an early teen.  “Don’t feel sorry for yourself — do something else, or something for someone else to get through it…”  Something like that.  I was on the pitty pot in my life before I started Binky Patrol and remembered what she said and knew it was time to do something for others rather than struggling to help myself.  Funny how both needs were handled.

Thanks mom.  I love you and miss you terribly every day.