19 September 2008


My house is a wasteland. Of yards of fabric, of remnants, of threads, tools and unfinished sewing projects. I've managed to hide most of it, save for a half finished pillow lying on the floor in the guest room. The pillow that I was in the middle of happily working on when I got the call from my mother to please meet her at the hospital, they had called 911, and things did not look good. Since that moment, my sewing world has not been the same. Neither has my world in general for that matter.

Perhaps this seems an odd place, a sewing blog, to memorialize a family member. To me, not so much. She is related to my sewing, and so I can easily see the connection. And connected not only to that half finished pillow with a blue dot in the middle made by a fabric pen to mark where the button needs to go--that I hate looking at.

One of the last times I saw her she had come to see my little house. The house we would not have had without her. That is not an exaggeration. Although bit tired and worn out, not feeling like her usual self, she walked in, took her time looking around, and took it all in. Really, there isn't much to take in. But she was seeing what it could be, seeing what I wanted it to be. She sat on the sofa, and talked about the rug I should get, the type of tv that would be perfect there. She walked into our new kitchen (also something we wouldn't have without her), and was pleased with what she saw. She talked about colors, what type of table would be best for dining. She was a visual person. She was an artist, a skilled painter, and perhaps to me a kindred spirit. She saw what I saw, and I'm glad she got to see it, glad that she was happy and approved.

Back in the living room, she spotted the pillow I had made, the one project I actually posted a picture of. She told me I should make them and sell them. "It's as good as anything they have at Pier One. You should sell these somewhere." This is not to toot my own horn. This is to give indication of how she was, of who she was. I, a novice sewer, with only one pillow under my belt should sell them? It's not a horrible first try, but it's far from perfect, that pillow. But still, she was adamant that I show it to people, create an inventory, and market them. My husband told me the other day about long talks he had with her in NJ, while everyone else was at the beach, about the way she always encouraged everyone to do the things they wanted to do, and my pillow making was no exception.

The thing about her is, she was never afraid. Maybe she became more cautious as she got older, but she was never afraid to do things. She took risks where other people wouldn't. She went roller skating on the 16th Street Bridge (the outside edge, no less!) when she was a child, she went out in bad weather in sailboats on the Potomac and nearly drowned. She sped through town in sports cars and trailed presidents to get their pictures. She took a cross country trip on a Greyhound bus. She bought houses when women didn't, when they couldn't. She said no to marriage proposal upon marriage proposal when women of her generation were expected to marry.

She's made things possible for myself, for my sister, for my mother and father, and now for my husband that wouldn't have happened without her. She has already made possible things for my children that have yet to exist. And for that we are more than grateful. We are indebted. Perhaps not to her (she wouldn't want it that way), but to each other, to friends, to family, to those that come after us to pass on those things of hers, whether they are tangible items, or just ideas. There is so much more to her than just one blog post. If you didn't know her you truly missed something wonderful. Sure she was eccentric, sometimes a pain, and even times bossy, but she knew what she was talking about whether we listened or not.

The weekend after she died, I tried to finish that pillow. I tried to make my new curtains. I was determined. I didn't have anything else to do. But the grief came out in frustration, and short tempers, and I couldn't concentrate on seam length, and straight lines. I still can't. Maybe soon. But for now I see that damn pillow and I can't concentrate. The sewing machine makes me want to throw something.

I know these things hold no fault, but they hold an unpleasant connection and right now the wound is too fresh. So, to my few (couple?) readers, I will apologize for my lack of sewing insight. You'll have to bear with me a few more weeks. There are other things happening, no time for sewing, and for now, I'm glad of that. But it will come back.

For now, my home is a wasteland of unfished projects, rolls of fabric, half sewn curtains and a lonely sewing machine. It won't last. Give it some time, and perhaps I'll even take a risk. Maybe she knew what she was talking about.

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