“Things that are hard to bear are sweet to remember” Seneca, Roman philosopher
Mourning is a very individual activity. Everyone has their own unique way of remembering the deceased. For many, it is through photographs or videos. Others find visiting a cemetery comforting. For Mimi, it is through purses.
Ironically, I met Mimi at a funeral. She was carrying a purse of woven gold metal in the shape of a box--almost like a woven lunch box. I commented on its uniqueness and discovered the beginnings of this series “Mimi and Her Purses.”
Mimi and her husband, Phil, come from large families with lots of aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and cousins. Along with many family celebrations, there are also somber moments when someone passes away. To help retain each person’s memory, Mimi chooses to use their purses on special occasions. This keeps their spirit alive and creates a living memorial for all who see Mimi wearing these handbags-- reminders of the past when every outfit had it’s own matching purse.
I was invited to Mimi’s closet to see the numerous handbags and hear the wonderful stories about an Aunt or Grandmother or even a Great Grandmother who owned these remnants of times past. Inside each purse is a holy card with a picture of a Saint, the person’s name, date of birth and death and whatever the previous owner left behind—handkerchief, lipstick and other inconsequential items such as band aids, packets of Splenda, price tags, toothpicks and even a sewing kit.
Each purse is a tribute to the past, creating a celebratory experience from an everyday object. By allowing the handbag and the items found inside to live a new life, Mimi captures the essence of memorable people in her life.