I’ve posted before about the sewers in my family and have even shown a sewing project of my own. I would like to tell you about my sewing teacher. She’s my mother, Rosemary, and I wish I still have some of the lovely things she made for me when I was growing up. OK, I admit they weren’t all lovely. I remember that pair of bell bottom pants, only Rosemary didn’t have a pattern for bell bottoms, so she made wide legs. And since I had wide legs already, the pants had w-i-d-e legs. The fabric came from the remnant pile at a local fabric store and was a garish black and blue striped double knit, ( new at the time.) My mother loved double knit fabric because she didn’t have to iron it. I swear, this woman would iron anything-even washcloths. Well, maybe not washcloths, but she did iron our sheets and my father’s underwear.
The pants were so loud that a group of kids who were a block down the street howled the first time I wore them outside. Had I known about Christo in those days, maybe I could have pretended to be an art installation or something.
But my mother took a sewing class with her friend Peg and finally came into her own as a seamstress. Her work was impeccable. She made me tops, pants, dresses, suits, slips and even a coat. While I could never talk her out of the remnant pile (she was a Depression kid), I was proud to wear the things she made for me and never hesitated to announce that “my mother made it.” Her special touch could make cheap fabric look good. And I monitored the fabric selection after the baggy pants incident.
Rosemary taught me cross stitch and embroidery when I was little, how to thread a needle and how to make minor repairs on garments without sewing them to my pants. But it wasn’t until after my father died and I got to spend long periods of time with her that I got more serious about the sewing. I never was much into making clothes, but she taught me how to make pillows, curtains and slipcovers. One time I went to visit her when she lived in Florida, I carried two of my couch cushion covers in my suitcase. She taught me how to make a pattern from them, how to make box cushions and how to sew piping. I still use the patterns we made more than 20 years ago.
Rosemary doesn’t sew anymore. She has Alzheimer’s disease. I moved her to Philadelphia about five years ago and she lives in a nice facility where my brother and I can see her on a regular basis. They have activities in the Memory Ward where Rosemary has a cute little room. She painted this picture a few months ago.
Sometimes Rosemary knows me and sometimes she doesn’t but we always have a nice time when we are together. It amazes me that I still enjoy her company. Before she was stricken with the disease, I interviewed her and other relatives for a family history, so I know the story of how she met my father, what Christmas was like when she was growing up, the name she gave her favorite doll, and other things about her life.
There is a song that says, “Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you.” So what remains when the memories are gone? Love is always there if you are open to it.
Martha, you are blessed with such a mother and the spirit of her lives through you as you write, share and inspire others such as me. Thank you.