I got her machine out of its case and set it up- the very same one she taught me to sew on. She was a master seamstress who made her own wedding gown and every prom dress I ever wore, and she made us matching mother-daughter dresses when I was little, almost two decades before it became a popular trend in the late 1980s. Ours dresses were penny stretchers – not fashion shows. More like The Sound of Music drapery dresses for two, whenever fabric went on clearance. New pre-made clothes were almost never purchased – as a pastor’s wife, mama knew how to cut more than a few kinds of corners! Hers was necessity sewing – not hobby sewing, but she found joy in it all the same.
A few months before she died of Parkinson’s, with hands that had been far too shaky to sew for the last seven years of her fight, she passed on her Bernina to me. Although I’m not nearly the dressmaker she was, I still enjoy threading a bobbin and whirring up the needle to stitch up a seam. Whenever I need to hear her, I start a sewing project and listen carefully. I can still feel her standing over me, guiding my hands along the fabric as I feed it through the foot.
Today, there were no tears of frustration or crying about having to fix mistakes, and this was what I needed to hear. Rag quilts might be the most mistake-forgiving blankets of all time. Forgiving just like my mother – a sweet, gentle soul who appreciated everything that came her way and knew how to let things go. The frayed edges of the soft flannel backing envelop me, and I hear her whisper words of wisdom in my ear, “Don’t take it all too seriously – life’s too short. Perfection doesn’t offer the extra seam allowances needed to forgive and move on.” Oh, how her reminders come when I most need them!