Grandma Taught Me How to Sew - Revised

I wrote this piece about 4 years ago.  Upon Grandma’s passing yesterday, it was time for a revision…

My grandma taught me how to sew...nearly twenty-five years ago, in the July heat, in her non-air-conditioned farm house.

For several days, summer after summer, I would stay at Grandma's house until we had completed an outfit. Her house seemed to bake in the July, muggy, Missouri heat. I remember just hoping for a breeze to come through the bedroom window where I slept at night.

I would make my way to the kitchen each morning to find her reading the paper, drinking her coffee, and smoking a cigarette. She would make me a bowl of a yummy, sugary cereal – just not Uncle Rod’s special kind of yummy, sugary cereal.  And we would have breakfast and chat about what we needed to accomplish on my outfit for the day.

She taught me how to read a pattern; how to lay out the pattern pieces properly on the fabric; to pay close attention to every detail on each pattern piece; to measure and pin and snip and stitch so carefully. And if I didn't do things just right, she would move me out of the way and finish it herself. She was particular, to say the least.

She passed down her craft in same, old-fashioned way she learned how to sew.  With a simple pattern, pins, scissors and a measuring tape.  No fancy machines; no fancy tools.  Just the basics.  And it worked. 

So, I suppose it only seems appropriate that Grandma left us for her Heavenly home on Ash Wednesday.  The day the church is stripped down, un-adorned, simple, and humble.  No frills; just church.  And the simple, raw reminder: dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

Those weren’t words Grandma heard at church once each year.  She lived them.  She knew life didn’t have to be fancy and expensive to be rich in love and family.

Greater than the sewing lessons; were the lessons about family.  She showed every one of her six children, seventeen grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren how to stitch together a family.

She knew that making the right choice about pattern and fabric paled in comparison to how you execute the directions. 

She showed us that choosing who to love is important, but carrying out that love day after day matters even more.

She knew that every detail mattered.

She understood that attending junior high girls basketball games and pee-wee soccer games mattered.

She knew that those extra pains-taking finishing details would be rewarded with a blue ribbon.

She knew that seven different types of pie was not too many to make for those she loved.

She knew that taking short-cuts would never pay-off.

          Her love for all of us never took a short-cut.

I’d like to think I got some of the best of my Grandma in that hot, stuffy sewing room.  And while a small part of her legacy will live on the boxes of fabrics and notions that have found their way to my home; the biggest part of her legacy will live on in the way we give of ourselves to our families…

…in a no-frills, give-it-your-all, “don’t be a dummy,” pay attention to the smallest of details, humble, ashes to ashes sort of way.  


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