My wife cleaned out our closet. On the top shelf, she found an old pair of cowboy chaps. Next to it: a faded quilt which I retired many years ago. Once, the quilt was dark brown and forest green. Now it’s khaki and celery-colored.
I smelled it and took in a lungful of dust. I remember when Mama made it for me, and how long it took her.
As a girl, she made her own clothes. She’d walk into town, peek into the Weaver’s shop window, then go home, fire up the sewing machine, and duplicate them.
During my own childhood, half my wardrobe was handmade. A lot of my closet was Western wear. She’d use discarded bolts of fabric to make costumes which would become legendary in three counties.
She produced so much child-sized cowboy finery, she learned to do it without patterns. She could close her eyes and whip up a pair of wooly chaps (snap) just like that.
But it was more than this. She did nearly anything she thought would make me happy. Namely: biscuits. After working two back-to-back shifts, she’d get home in the wee hours, smelling like commercial disinfectant. She’d cook the biggest breakfast you ever saw and watch me eat myself sick.
Then, after doing dishes, she’d fall facefirst onto the bed and sleep straight through supper.
But her sewing. The woman has sewn everything for everybody. She’s taken in tuxes, let out dresses, made denim quilts from blue jeans, and even made Barbie clothes. She’s rescued wedding dresses from ruin, and sewn the split crotch of an eighty-year-old Baptist minister’s trousers.
While he wore them.
Throughout my life, she’s altered millions of my slacks—since God made my legs too long. When I hit college, she mended my scuffed work clothes, knitted hats to keep me warm, and even darned my socks. When I got married, she upholstered chairs, beds, sofas, pillows, and of course, made quilts.
She’s hell with a quilt. She gives them as gifts. We’ve never been able to talk her into selling them. But I do not believe a single newborn within ten-miles of her has ever gone quiltless.
Her life has been hard. She’s pieced dimes together to make rent while still managing to rustle up fried chicken for her son. I’ve seen her rescue God knows how many animals from certain death. She’s survived widowhood, eviction, financial ruin, two major diseases, and chances are, she’s even cleaned your condo on her hands and knees.
Babies and kids love her. So do vegetable gardens, feral cats, and people who feel alone.