Sewing Hems

sewing machine

I am not the sewer that my mother was.

She went to a high school in Brooklyn that specialized in sewing and cooking, both of which she did very well.  When I was a little girl, I would sit near her as she sewed on her Singer sewing machine.  I’d watch her knee push against the lever that would set the machine into a roar, amazed at how she could move the fabric through it so quickly and keep the lines so straight.  Sometimes, she would let me help as she laid out a pattern on material and taught me how to cut the pattern “on the bias.”  I loved helping her and tried hard to learn what she was trying to teach me.  But when I was in 7th grade Home Economics class, I was supposed to make an a-line skirt.  Our class was having a fashion show for our moms.  Before the fashion show, we were allowed to bring our skirts home.  I tried on my masterpiece for my mother to see .  .  . when I took it off, she brought it to her sewing machine and straightened the hem.  She didn’t want me to be seen in public with a crooked hem.

I bought my own sewing machine about 25 years ago.  When I was little, my mom had made many beautiful matching sun-dresses for my sister and I.  When I bought my sewing machine, my hope was that I would be able to do the same for my little girl who was born a few years later.  I did make her a Barney the Dinosaur costume and a Little Dalmatian costume.  Both weren’t perfect, but they didn’t fall apart either.  Unfortunately, that was as far as my sewing talent would take me.

So now I am sitting at that same sewing machine that I made those little costumes on and I am trying to hem pajama pants for my mom.  She will be moving into an assisted living facility at the end of this week.  Although she is surprisingly healthy for a woman of 91, she is suffering from dementia.  The saddest part of dementia is that the person who is suffering doesn’t know what is happening.  Her confusion makes it hard for her to have the independence she needs and wants.  Her frustration is heartbreaking for us to watch.  While there is no perfect answer, we are hoping that in her new environment she will be able to have some of that independence restored and hope that the attentive care and activities offered at the facility will help forestall the progress of this disease.

So here I am, sewing hems on her pajama pants.  I would never attempt it if they were clothes she wanted to wear out in the world, but I guess I can handle pj’s.  I’m sorry mom, I am not the sewer that you were.  But I love you.   Author of The Tin Box Trilogy

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