Sewing Memories

Originally posted on March 18, 2010 at 12:53 AM

Hub-a-dub is gone for work and it’s spring break for us, so I took advantage of a blank day and went to my aunt’s house to help her quilt. She’s making a memory quilt for me (and one for my brother) out of all of our dad’s old shirts. I couldn’t bear to donate them to Goodwill with the rest of his stuff, and they look so pretty together. He definitely had a preference for a particular color scheme. So I passed them on to her and she’s working her magic. And since my other wonderful aunt (how am I so lucky?) taught me how to use my sewing machine, I took it with me and got to help. How cool is that? Very. Very cool, is what you’re looking for.

It was surprisingly nice to just sit there and sew in a straight line over and over again. I’m definitely getting better at working the machine, and I enjoyed the company. It’s hard to describe how special those pieces of fabric are to me. There are some new ones that she found that are just prints that depict Dad’s personality in various ways (fishing, big cats, money, etc.) mixed in with all of those old polos and tees. It’s like seeing him again.

When he died and we had to clean out the house, I left his closet for last. It broke my heart to give it up. I could walk in there and smell him, so perfect it felt like a hug. The idea of saving some of it for a quilt was the only comfort I had, the only thing to hold on to. The rest we either sold at a thrift store or donated to Goodwill. I remember the poignancy of how funny it was when the lady at the thrift store told me that every single pair of khakis I brought in had stains on them. So Dad. I should have known. But she bought a few dress shirts and suits.

After I’d packed all the shirts away and donated the rest of the clothes, I felt panicked. Somehow, I’d let myself lose or hide all of the smell, all of the memory. When we went back to the thrift store to check if any of the suits had sold, I glanced through the racks, just knowing that I’d recognize his stuff out of all of it. That’d I’d be able to spot them from a mile away.

I couldn’t. Not a single item was certain. I felt like, somehow, I had betrayed him. Like I hadn’t paid enough attention, didn’t care enough. When they weren’t all together in a cacophony of burgundy, black, green, and gray with splashes of pink and purple, they somehow became just clothes. Nothing special. No longer his.

But seeing all of these fabrics together again is the most wonderful feeling. I do recognize them. I would from a mile away. I always will.

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