A Gift of Memories

Robin Botie of ithaca, New York, photoshops goats and Marika Warden (the girl in Ithaca who kicked leukemia but died of complications) wearing her coat of many colors in a Montessori school play.“Guess what I found.” That was the Facebook message I got from MJ last week.

MJ is one of those people I’ve felt connected to for years but never really spent time getting to know. These days we are Facebook friends. I love her posts. They often feature her crazy goats. We have designing and a love of fabrics in common. In the mid-1990s, MJ was sewing costumes for the Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca annual musicals while I was painting their scenery. Our daughters were both in the 1996 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. My six-year-old Marika got the part of Joseph and MJ created a beautiful Coat of Many Colors for her. The youngest student to get a major role in the school play, Marika spun proudly around and around on stage. It is one of the most precious images I have of my daughter who died fourteen years later.

Right away from the message, I knew MJ was trying to return the big bag of fabrics and clothes I’d given her to refashion. That’s what MJ does when she has time; she sews various remnants into stunning creations. But she got a full-time job shortly after I last saw her and no longer had time to sew for herself or for others. My bag sat in her house over two years while we both were too busy to bother with it.

I went to MJ’s house to pick up the bag. I was hoping to see her goats. What I got was the bag, the goats, and a magnificent gift.
“This isn’t mine,” I said, pointing to a garish pile on top in the bag I immediately recognized as my own. I held up the colorful bundle and it unfolded into a coat. And I unfolded into a mess of memories and tears.
“Yes, it is,” she said.


What was the most thoughtful, wonderful surprise you ever received?

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9 thoughts on “A Gift of Memories

  1. Pingback: Reconstructing a Memory | ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE - EVEN JOY

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    What a gift, Robin. It would be interesting to look at Marika’s lines as Joseph in the play. Might be some important ideas for you in there. The image is spectacular. Thank you.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Elaine. What a neat idea. I should revisit the lines Marika wrote as well since there are many ideas I haven’t tapped yet there. Cheers!

  3. SusanB

    I see your daughter spinning around in her coat of many colors. I wrote about a quilt made of hand drawn pictures by the children in Nick’s kindergarten class. His teacher, years later, wanted me to have it. http://headinmyhands.com/ode-to-a-kindergarten-teacher/

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      It’s beautiful. Thank you so much for including the link. So you know the bittersweet joy of touching some piece of the past with your child, a past that brings tears back, and memories, but not the child. You’ve got to love these others who hold onto a tiny piece of your child because you don’t want him to be forgotten. For me, it means everything that someone else was touched by my daughter’s life. Hugs to you, Susan.

  4. Annette Corth

    Another great image, Robin. I am trying to think of the most thoughtful, wonderful surprise I ever received. Perhaps it is still somewhere in my future. One can only hope.

    Your offers to drive me to Utica come very close. I am so grateful for them and for your company.

    See you on Sunday.

    Love, Annette

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Well that birthday dinner was a wonderful surprise for sure. Thank you for that and for Sarah’s cakes and for tuning in to my blogs.

  5. Joleen

    What a precious gift!!! Just love it and the thoughts of all the magic Marika created in that beautiful coat of many colors!!!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Joleen. Thanks for contributing. It was a magical surprise. I hope you get some moments of magic too. Cheers!


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