The Yellow Shirt

This story was shared with my sister last Friday by a friend of our mom – it touches on  creating traditions and ends with a revelation on peace.

“I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives…”

*The yellow shirt had long sleeves, four extra-large
pockets trimmed in black thread and snaps up the
front. It was faded from years of wear, but still in
decent shape. I found it in 1963 when I was home from
college on Christmas break, rummaging through bags of
clothes Mom intended to give away..*
*’You’re not taking that old thing, are you?’ Mom said
when she saw me packing the yellow shirt. ‘I wore that
when I was pregnant with your brother in 1954!’*

*’It’s just the thing to wear over my clothes during
art class, Mom. Thanks!’ I slipped it into my suitcase
before she could object. The yellow shirt be came a
part of my college wardrobe. I loved it.*

*After graduation, I wore the shirt the day I moved
into my new apartment and on Saturday mornings when I

*The next year, I married. When I became pregnant, I
wore the yellow shirt during big-belly days. I missed
Mom and the rest of my family, since we were in
Colorado and they were in Illinois .. But, that shirt
helped. I smiled, remembering that Mother had worn it
when she was pregnant, 25 years earlier.*

*That Christmas, mindful of the warm feelings the
shirt had given me, I patched one elbow, wrapped it in
holiday paper and sent it to Mom. When Mom wrote to
thank me for her ‘real’ gifts, she said the yellow
shirt was lovely. She never mentioned it again..*

*The next year, my husband, daughter and I stopped at
Mom and Dad’s to pick up some furniture. Days later,
when we uncrated the kitchen table, I noticed
something yellow taped to its bottom. The shirt!*

*And so the pattern was set.*

*On our next visit home, I secretly placed the shirt
under Mom and Dad’s mattress I don’t know how long it
took for her to find it, but almost two years passed
before I discovered it under the base of our
living-room floor lamp. The yellow shirt was just what
I needed now while refinishing furniture. The walnut
stains added character.*

*In 1975 my husband and I divorced. With my three
children, I prepared to move back to Illinois … As I
packed, a deep depression overtook me. I wondered if I
could make it on my own. I wondered if I would find a
job. I paged through the Bible, looking for comfort.
In Ephesians, I read, ‘So use every piece of God’s
armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and
when it is all over, you will be standing up.’*

*I tried to picture myself wearing God’s armor, but
all I saw was the stained yellow shirt.. Slowly, it
dawned on me.. Wasn’t my mother’s love a piece of
God’s armor? My courage was renewed.*

*Unpacking in our new home, I knew I had to get the
shirt back to Mother. The next time I visited her, I
tucked it in her bottom dresser drawer*

*Meanwhile, I found a good job at a radio station. A
year later I discovered the yellow shirt hidden in a
rag bag in my cleaning closet.*

*Something new had been added. Embroidered in bright
green across the breast pocket were the words ‘I

*Not to be outdone, I got out my own embroidery
materials and added an apostrophe and seven more letters.*

*Now the shirt proudly proclaimed, ‘I BELONG TO PAT’S
MOTHER.’ But I didn’t stop there. I zig-zagged all the
frayed seams, then had a friend mail the shirt in a
fancy box to Mom from Arlington , VA. We enclosed an
official looking letter from ‘The Institute for the
Destitute,’ announcing that she was the recipient of
an award for good deeds..*

*I would have given anything to see Mom’s face when
she opened the box. But, of course, she never
mentioned it..*

*Two years later, in 1978, I remarried. The day of our
wedding, Harold and I put our car in a friend’s garage
to avoid practical jokers. After the wedding, while my
husband drove us to our honeymoon suite, I reached for
a pillow in the car to rest my head. It felt lumpy. I
unzipped the case and found, wrapped in wedding paper,
the yellow shirt. Inside a pocket was a note: ‘Read
John 14:27-29. I love you both, Mother.’*

*That night I paged through the Bible in a hotel room
and found the verses: ‘I am leaving you with a gift:
peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t
fragile like the peace the world gives.. So don’t be
troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am
going away, but I will come back to you again. If you
really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now
I can go to the Father, who is greater than I am.. I
have told you these things before they happen so that
when they do, you will believe in me.’*

*The shirt was Mother’s final gift. She had known for
three months that she had terminal Lou Gehrig’s
disease. Mother died the following year at age 57.*

*I was tempted to send the yellow shirt with her to
her grave. But I’m glad I didn’t, because it is a
vivid reminder of the love-filled game she and I
played for 16 years. Besides, my older daughter is in
college now, majoring in art. And every art student
needs a baggy yellow shirt with big pockets.*

*Faith is the pause between God’s plan and seeing it come to pass!*
– Author Unknown

Let me know what you guys think of this story!

With Love,


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2 comments on “The Yellow Shirt
  1. My mom, with whom I am fortunate to still have in my life, and I shared something similar to this when I was in my early 20’s in the form of a white hat. It came and it went from my house to hers. Across the miles, it always found its way into a box of halloween goodies or my Easter Basket…yes, I was in my 20’s and still getting an Easter Basket from my mom. Actually, although we don’t share the mysterious white hat that neither of us can figure out it’s whereabouts, I am 37 now and I still get an Easter Basket….so one tradition or another – I am thankful to share fun stories like this with my mom. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this post!