Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sew What

I was going to post earlier, but I got sidetracked. It was pretty earlier so Nino and I went for a walk and hooked up with a friend. Then I hauled some wood in before it rained. Then I did a few other chores, then went to visit my neighbors.

Interesting. I was just talking to someone earlier today about how the current state that we're in can be compared to the Great Depression that my grandparents and my parents talked about. I noted that what was different then is that people knew who they were dealing with and people looked out for each other. Now it's all run by commercial conglomerates that don't know any of us from a fruit fly - you don't pay, you're screwed. I mentioned that people could get a job for a day doing anything without having to go through 10 interviews, testing and background checks, and then get paid at the end of the day. As we talked, I thought particularly of my Grandma who took in sewing and cleaned people's houses.

And then.

My neighbor asked me if I would hem her husband's pants. While I pride myself on being a decent seamstress, I've never really done that kind of work before. But, why not?! So I did it. When I brought the finished product over, she mentioned that her sister's husband also needed some pants mended. You just never know. Not that this pays the rent, by any stretch, but it's better than nothing at all. It keeps me feeling industrious at the very least. Plus, I felt my Grandma hovering somewhere near and could hear her saying, "Nuh. How 'bout dat?!" While I'd like nothing better than to emulate my Grandma, it always takes me a little by surprise when I do, when I accomplish something that I know was a result of her influence on me.

I recall all the times in my youth that I'd ask her to fix something for me... mend a zipper, hem a skirt, alter a shirt... and my Mom used to save all the family mending if she knew Grandma was coming to visit. The woman, along with so many other unlauded abilities, was such a skilled needle worker. I used to be so envious of the way she'd sew by hand, without even seeming to concentrate much, and her stitches were perfect. She could mend almost anything.
I don't think Grandma was ever aware that she was teaching me, except for the time I asked her to teach me how to cook Hungarian. The rest of the time, she was just being. I know if I could sit with her today and point out all of the lessons and skills that she passed to me, she'd be utterly humble about it. She'd pass it all off with a wave and use her classic, "Oh... vell...."

I wonder what we teach others without knowing. I wonder what we give each other just by being. We don't always get to know, but it's worth being aware and vigilant, don't you think? I do.

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