Friday, April 04, 2008

Mama's Scissors

A couple of weeks ago I got out Mama's sewing scissors. I have looked at them a few times since her death, but haven't used them.

She was very particular with her sewing scissors. She kept them in the box they came in and they were only used for fabric. Mama was the type of person who always "made do" with things, not necessarily buying the best things for herself, although she would get quality for me. When she did splurge on something for herself she took exquisite care of it.

I brought the scissors down and have used them a couple of times in a sewing project I've got going, but I'm being very careful with them. It feels good to be using them.

The love she put into sewing projects was palpable. She sewed for me. She sewed for my nephews when we were younger. She sewed for almost everyone in the family at one time or another - maybe some simple mending, or maybe chair cushions when she reupholstered furniture, or maybe a dress. Whatever she made, she used these scissors, then stored them carefully away in their box.

It feels good to have my hands around something Mama wrapped her hands around so many times. And I think her magic touch is with me because the project I'm working on is going more smoothly than I expected.

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Sewing Machine Life Lessons

I recently brought a sewing machine downstairs to work on a project. It's the Singer Stylist 534, the machine my mom got me one Christmas when I was in high school. She had a Singer Featherweight, which I now have, that I absolutely love. But, my home ec teacher insisted we be able to do zig-zag stitches, which were all the rage at the time, and the Featherweight didn't have that capability. So, I got this machine for Christmas.

When I left home I took the Featherweight for basic repairs and Mama kept this machine because she still did a lot of sewing, including many clothes for me. She sewed for me until the last few years of her life - everything from work clothes to costumes to prom dresses. She was a gifted seamstress.

After she died, I brought this machine to my house, but I haven't used it in the subsequent nearly seven years. I generally use the Featherweight, but this project involves heavier fabric and I didn't want to tax that machine.

The other night when I lifted the cover off the machine, there was a spool of green thread sitting where she had taken it off the top and moved it underneath the dials without unthreading it so the lid would fit on. I don't know what the last thing was she sewed on the machine, but I'm certain when she put that spool of green thread on the little ledge she didn't expect it would be the last time she sewed with that machine. I'm sure she expected to make or mend something else at some point in the future.

That's always true for all of us - we never know when something will be the last time. We go through life expecting tomorrow will come. We never know when we sew something, or kiss someone, or come home, if it's the last time we'll do that thing. There's something terrifying about that and at the same time I find it comforting.

This uncertainty is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter how much money you have, how smart you are, or what kind of house you buy, it may end at any moment. This drives me to experience as much as I can every day.

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