The opera shirt. (The Washington Post/ )

Margaret Reed, 56, Springfield, Va., systems security consultant

There it was, hanging in her closet, just as I’d remembered it. I created the shirt for my mother, an avid opera buff, during my teens when I went through a manic embroidery phase. I had stitched the names and composers of her favorite operas all over the shirt. I must have struggled to find the patience and time necessary to produce something with such painstaking detail, but my mother was deeply touched and wore the shirt with pride. As a teen, I was resentful that opera was woven into the soundtrack of my life, and the project was borne out of guilt, my self-imposed penance for my all-too-typical teenage moodiness.

“Norma” was one of my mother’s favorite operas and earned the place of honor on the front of the shirt. When she passed away in 2012, the minister of the family church helped us pick out “Casta Diva” from “Norma” to play at her funeral. He knew she would enjoy it, even if it wasn’t exactly music for the church.

Perhaps the shirt represents my lifelong pull between being the sullen teenage girl and the mature daughter. No matter how many years went by, I often felt 16 when I went back home to visit my mother. Rediscovering the shirt has propelled me to explore opera, and in doing that, I’ve found a new way to connect with her.

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