ONE morning, I decided to wear a dress to work. I had found my old blue dress hanging at the back of my dresser and figured it would probably look better on me now because I had lost weight. I gave it a once over, checked the hems and the stitching--just to make sure that it was okay to wear and I would not end up embarrassed by any kind of wardrobe malfunction. Everything seemed okay so I lay it on the bed and took a bath. I had woken up earlier than usual and so I took my time, watching television while drying my hair before I knew it, I was pressed for time and running around to get dressed.

My blue dress’ neckline had become too low for work, it seems, but my mind was too made up to not wear it. So I went looking for something I could put on the dress to make it more appropriate. I had to laugh at myself for thinking about securing my neckline with a double sided tape. What about stapling it? (I was out of staple wire!) Hmm. So i asked my Mom for a safety pin. She told me to go look in her sewing kit (it was actually a heart shaped tin box from a pharmaceutical company). As I rummaged through an assortment of threads, needles and buttons, I finally found one safety pin. Just one. It was an old one. Really old.

Really, really old. I could tell because the shaft was bent out of shape and the hinge was a bit rusted. The metal felt denser than the more recent safety pins that I have. It, indeed, has been around in our household for years and has probably served a lot of purposes in our home. Anyway, out of lack of anything else to use for my dress, I used it to keep my neckline modest. I wasn’t too thrilled about using something big and obviously old, but I really did not have much of a choice. So be it.

“Kay Papa moyan.” (That is your father’s pin.) My Mom said.

Oh. It was my father’s pin.

I remember how we used it to keep his shoulder bandages in place. After his stroke, the weakness of his upper extremities made it difficult for him to even square his shoulders. This created a lot of discomfort because the lack of muscle tone caused a lot of discomfort. Putting on a sling for support made him more comfortable and all of us, his children, and my Mom, took turns in putting it on for him. I remember there were times that I would accidently pierce him with the needle. :( He was always understanding, even jokingly asking me if I had a grudge on him! It was one of those times that have become bonding moments for father and family--where we talked about stuff and shared quiet moments together.

Later on the safety pin held his scapular and Mama Mary’s medal. It was pinned on his chest. By then he mostly stayed indoors and in bed. I remember seeing him put his hand over it while he prayed every night or whenever he felt like praying. I remember seeing him arrange it and ask for it whenever one of us forgot to pin it back after we had changed his shirt. I guess you could say that that safety pin held what my father held on to--his faith in the Creator and we were witnesses to that.

Sigh.

I gently removed it and went to look for another pin for my dress. As I was walking back to return it to my Mom’s sewing kit, memories began rushing in. It felt weird to have something of my father’s to hold on to when he has already been gone for almost three years. I held it in the palm of my hand and suddenly, the ugly pin didn’t look as ugly anymore. It gave out a glimmer as it caught the light reflected from my window. Funny how something that initially looked plain and felt cold has become something endearing that gave off a warm, fuzzy feeling I just had to smile.

I know we have been told not to be materialistic. I remember so clearly what I said in my very first article for this column: “Use things, not people. Love people, not things.” (from All These, While Folding Underwear, June 20, 2010) At some point we have all been guilty about doing the opposite, right? Well, I have to say that there are times when the lines can be blurred.

Sometimes you love things because the people you associate it with are no longer with you. You even to learn to love certain things that you didn’t in the past because it reminds you people whom you value and love dearly. They bring back good and fond memories that make you smile and remember how happy times felt especially when things are not-so-good from where you stand at the moment. In this way, I guess you can say that we actually “use” people to get by and to survive. Is that such a bad thing? I think not. I think that whoever that person we “use” is/was, he would be happy to help us through any challenge that we have to face!

So I guess, it is okay.

Yes, the safety pin is old and rusted. Other people would have just thrown it away. I am quite happy to say that I have it safely tucked away--back in my Mom’s sewing kit. It has brought back many good memories that has somehow made me miss my father profoundly that I had to remind myself that he is in the best place any person would want to be--safely and comfortably in the Creator’s embrace. As for the safety pin, it has cerased to be the old, ugly wornout piece of metal that it used to be. Because of my father and the memories that I have of him, it has become the most beautiful safety pin in the whole wide world!

Have A Happy Sunday! Tell your loved ones how much you love and appreciate them! :)