Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A weakness, not an addiction

The other day I had the sad duty of attending the memorial service for one of the nicest women I've ever known. She was a guiding light of our church and the kind of person in whose presence you always felt welcome and important. We had been in a sewing group together and she was a member of a committee I chaired, but mostly I knew her as someone with whom I could share a delicious story or slightly ribald joke. I am tremendously grateful that I knew her and that she was given 84 years among us.

Her eulogy exposed many startling facts. For instance, at 15, she did a part-time stint as the town phone operator and one of her responsibilities was to know at all times which bar the town's alcoholic doctor was frequenting, just in case someone was injured or went into labor. Her kind-hearted mother became pals with the local prostitute, and they would swap clothing -- and occasionally some mighty fancy trims festooned my friend's homemade outfits, the result of this unconventional relationship. When she lived in Milwaukee, my friend would attend the garment district's end-of-season sales, dragging home bolts of fabric so she could make her own childrens' wardrobes. Her daughter jokingly said she remembered wearing the same print, in different incarnations, for 15 years when she was young.

One thing that didn't surprise me is that my friend had a big stash of fabric in her sewing room, and that it had taken her and her two daughters four days to clear it out before she moved with her husband to a senior living complex several months ago. When the minister mentioned this, however, I felt a sudden urge to cry out: What did she do with it?!

It turns out much of it went to her then-next door neighbor, who also attends our church and provided the great description of G-d I've shared here before.

Now, what the heck is SHE going to do with it? Her sewing room is similarly packed to the rafters with fabric and every other kind of craft material. She's been known to part happily with stacks of upholstery fabric books she acquired from her daughter, who is an interior designer. Yet, like me, she must have found it difficult to say no to an offer of something she might use some time, some place, some how.

Well, what kind of a friend would I be if I didn't offer to take some off her hands? I have pillowcases and quilts to sew, and I could use yardage, right? Rationalization, thy name is Sewist.

And you know what, if you call it a weakness, not an addiction, it's a lot easier to take.

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