The moon had climbed into the sky and was now shining inside the trailer window. I looked to where it spilled across the waxed linoleum floor, gleaming like the surface of a calm lake. I stared at it for a long while. How was it possible that moonlight on linoleum, washed with my tears, could be so achingly beautiful? —-Terry Helwig
Terry Helwig has ‘come a long way, baby’, as the saying goes. She has a master’s degree in counseling and is responsible for the creation of The Thread Project: One World, One Cloth, which promotes tolerant and compassionate behavior throughout the world. After reading this memoir, one cannot help but reflect upon the fact that the raw courage, strength and determination she developed while growing up in a challenging, adverse environment, were the threads that brought her to this point in her life. The lack of a stable, secure situation was almost inevitable from the moment of conception and, unfortunately, increased with intensity as she grew toward young adulthood. Her sense of the need to survive and achieve empowered her and should embolden women everywhere.
Terry’s mother, Carola Jean Vacha, was a bride at the age of fourteen. It has been suggested that she fled an abusive home situation wherein her mother never hesitated to beat her from the time she was an infant. Carola always seemed to be in search of new horizons and seldom preferred to absorb or respond to the immediacy of present situations. Rules and regulations were annoying inconveniences for her and she decided, early on, that only she would determine what was significant to satisfy her insatiable desires. Marriage, promiscuous behaviors and substance abuse were the tools she used to fulfill those needs. She bore four daughters, Terry being the eldest, and, seemingly, was a caring, affectionate mother for brief periods of time. Then, abruptly, she would announce she was departing for parts unknown, and became a mother in absentia without a backward glance. This imposed a parental surrogacy upon Terry which she undertook to secure the safety of the children as well as to appease Carola. On the other hand, Terry’s stepfather, albeit a man who was not able to withstand the behaviors of his wife, was very caring and made many attempts to bring beauty into their lives and eradicate tainted memories. Perhaps this was the origin of Terry’s assertion that there was much about which to dream.
Selah is a beautiful word from the Hebrew Bible that seems to waft into the air when articulated. It has several translations which include a liturgico-musical mark that indicates a pause, to listen, to meditate; it may also be used in exchange for the word amen. Whether it is used as a solemn ratification or a time of reflection, the significance of it remains undiminished. Terry chose to place this written symbol upon the stone that marked her mother’s grave, twenty years after her death at the age of forty. Along with this composition, which is dedicated to her mom and her daughter, it was her way of saying a final farewell. As she approached the site, visions of the fudge made on rainy days, a mother’s hug and tears glistening on linoleum might have flashed before her eyes. It was a time to celebrate the love for a mother, exhilarated and uplifted by a compassionate awareness of forgiveness. Selah!