These are the remains of a sewing basket that belonged to a dear and special friend of mine. Her name was Alva. She hemmed all of her own pants and fixed the holes in all of her older brothers work clothes. The last brother was Charles but everyone called him Peanut. She never married and she outlived them all. She sat on Saturday evenings in an old rocker who’s cushion was pieced together with collected remnants of cloth and she watched (religiously) the re-runs of the Lawrence Welk Show. She had also outlived her teeth, but her smile was the best most honest grin of anyone I knew. Her favorite foods were 35 cent ice cream sandwiches, fresh strawberries, and cream of wheat. She was kind, undemanding, and enjoyed life. She carried a huge old fashion pocketbook that was filled with essential things, like safety pins, and matches, and small notebooks for recording important information. She tucked a small wad of Kleenex up her sleeve just like my grandmother did. She remembered the dates of birthdays and deaths and weddings but never learned to drive, didn’t own a microwave, had never traveled out of the state of Maine, and didn’t own a cell phone. She wore two headscarves, one on top of the other…I don’t know why. When I sort through her little sewing basket, carefully and tenderly examining each little trinket, each little needle case, each little prize, I smile and feel glad and sad and privileged. Perhaps the thread will be used to make baby Violet a new pair of leggings. The fabric pieces will patch a pair of holey jeans. I’ll sharpen the scissors and line up her collection of thimbles on the sewing table. Maybe I’ll sit quietly in the evening, hand sewing and eat ice cream sandwiches.

8 comments on “Gifted

  1. Your tender tribute to Martha brought me to tears. Every word you said was heartfelt and gave her the best description of a life of rural life that is fast vanishing around us. She was a remarkable gentle soul . Well done Denise no one could say it better

  2. Sorry about the loss of your friend, Denise. Your tribute to her described her so well, I felt I almost knew her. With the loss of each of our elders, they take so much with them. Her sewing basket is a sweet memento. I have my mother’s and I treasure it.

  3. The details in your tribute make it great–I can quite imagine the woman you describe and she sounds wonderful! These old sewing baskets are treasure troves–I buy them at garage sales and love going through the bits and imagining the women who collected the items. You’re lucky to have Alva’s basket and she was lucky, I believe, to call you friend.

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