When I was a kid, I always had these mixed feelings about my mother. I loved her and was also nervous. She was unpredictable and could go into deep funks. But oh when she was on her game! She would clean house like fury , shoving, literally an upright piano from one room to another with my sisters and I helping her. “Come on, girls,” she’d cry. “We can do this.” And we did. The piano gave under our shoves, my mother and her kids. It stood moved from the end of the living room to a space near the doorway where she draped a scarf over it and arranged a series of pictures. Some people I knew, some I didn’t. We kids immediately sat down and banged out our version of “Comin Round the Mountain.”

“Come on,” she called “We aren’t done.” So we continued, intrigued. What next?

Next was the scarred old sofa. There was no place she could put it that would not show its wear and it was the only piece of furniture we had, the sofa and a side chair. The rest of the time we sat on the floor or used dining room chairs… and there were only six of the those. There were way more of us than that in the house. My mom and dad, seven kids, four uncles. So where was she going to put the sofa? There was barely room to move already what with all the people. But, she had an idea. “We’ll angle it,” she said. “Put it between the windows and the corner wall. I will drape a quilt over it. Like a slipcover.”

We kids nodded and helped, then admired the effect. This was years before Pottery Barn showed shabby chic. But we thought it was terrific. Our mom could make something out of nothing!

I still love the idea that a person might be able to create with not much more than a shabby sofa and a quilt. I admire the woman who could create something from nothing. Two sticks and a piece of dental floss. She held to the idea of possibility.

I have hung on to possibility too. At least in my best moments. I remember arranging furniture with my kids when they were small. Remember dragging our dining room chairs into the living room and having them play train with caps and whistles. They loved it. Who knew what might be made to happen? The whole world was open to them in those moments.

I am my mother’s daughter, not my mom, but I have what she gave me and I want to pass that along to my kids and the grandkids. Our kids came to us as a dream, a hope, the slightest vision of what might be. They surpassed anything we dared to dream. It’s the same with the grandkids.

We have already taken the grandkids on their first train ride. After that, well, the sky is not the limit. We can go beyond, always beyond what we think we can. My hope is that I will be around to see that.