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  • Carolyn Lackey

The Solitude of Stitchery


I did something rather odd this morning. I trudged upstairs to the attic, retrieved a wrinkled, ancient chambray shirt from the color-coded storage tub carefully labeled "cel - High School," tromped back downstairs with the 47-year-old relic in tow, set up the ironing board and pressed the shirt using copious amounts of spray starch. I'd been thinking about that high school treasure for a couple of weeks. Today, I decided it was time to honor it with an iron.

Sitting with Meems for hours on end has given me the opportunity to read book club books, tap away on my laptop, and play insane amounts of Candy Crush. I'm on level 321 in Lollypop Meadows, and I haven't paid one penny to get there. (For me the best part of the game is resisting "help.") I've also taken up an old pastime, embroidery. The slow, rhythmic up and down of the needle piercing the fabric with that satisfying soft "pop," has pacified my soul. Working with flosses that are the colors of my mother, I've been embellishing an Old Navy chambray dress which I will most likely never wear because it is now quite heavy with embroidery floss.

Sitting in the quiet, peacefully chain-stitching, I have had time to revisit sweet memories of my youth - particularly the summer of '72. I spent many an afternoon sitting in a dear friend's teenage bedroom stitching away on my "work shirt." I used my allowance and some baby sitting money to purchase mine at KMart. Embellishing work shirts with sewn on patches and embroidery was "far out!" Gloria and I spent hours listening to Joan Baez albums and analyzing every eligible, pimply faced male in the Robinson High School yearbook. Vapor Trails, I believe it was called. The window unit poured cool air into the room with a gentle hum. We sipped on Koolaide and munched on Vanilla Wafers.

It seems that all of my sentimental journeys include sweet thoughts of Mom. Back in 1972, she taught 6th grade art and science. One of her favorite art projects was "stitching on burlap." She had her students draw a picture in chalk or pencil or some such on a brightly colored piece of burlap. Once drawn, the pictures were "colored in" with yarn threaded through bodkins. Mom took all of the finished burlap pieces home and sewed them up into pillows which the students filled with batting. She took multitudes of photos of her students and their burlap pillows. That's my cousin, Sherry, holding up her cat playing a candelabra-festooned piano. The boy's pillow shows a man fishing off a dock. His catch? A tire. Mom loved each and every creation.

When we moved Meems to Lubbock, I unearthed artwork that some of her students abandoned. Like throwing away Christmas cards with family pictures, Meems felt guilty about dumping her students' work. To this day, this pillow spends the yuletide resting on the bed in an upstairs guest room. It's my homage to my mother's love of children's art.

Which brings me to the present. Sitting quietly in Meems' presence while traveling through time via fond memories of work shirts stitched with Gloria and rescued children's art. Sometimes, I hope that this season with Mom will never end, and sometimes, I think it never will. Either way. God is blessing me every day.


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