A small heart shaped button fell off my daughter’s pyjamas and bounced across the bathroom floor. She chased it and held it up to my face, pinched between her thumb and forefinger.
‘Can you fix it?’ she said.
‘I’ll sew it back on’ I said, fingers mentally crossed behind my back.
But I underestimated the power of the vortex. I wrote about the vortex here, it’s a concept described by Joan Didion in her book about bereavement, My Year of Magical Thinking. One tiny thing can take you far, far away, in this case it’s a button.
‘I didn’t know you could sew,’ said Miss L.
‘My mum taught me,’ I said.
And those four words sent me soaring into the vortex.
I can’t conjure one specific memory of sewing with my mum, they are all interwoven now, a vast patchwork quilt of sewing memories, bigger than the sum of it’s parts. The book bag we made together for primary school, the clothkits dolls, the buttons we sewed back on, the holes we fixed, the binca we cross stitched, the parallel trousers we made, the adjustments to my prom dress, and my wedding dress.
So one tiny heart shaped button led me to pick up needle and thread again. I started work on a pile of garments I have been avoiding repairing for years, mainly because, despite all she taught me, my mum was the seamstress. When my Dad fell for her in the 60s, she was making her own clothes, stylish creations that made her stand out from the crowd. She lovingly crafted so many outfits for me and my brother. But, when she got ill, asking her to fix my clothes seemed wrong, so they were shoved in a bag at the back of the wardrobe.
As I sewed, I heard her voice guiding me. Interwoven into every stitch was a running commentary on how to thread the needle, where to pierce the fabric, how to secure the first and last stitch.
A rather beautiful little legacy, a vortex that effortlessly conjured my mother’s voice, and resulted in an immensely satisfying pile of ‘new’ clothes.
|My needle case, made with my mum from left over pyjama material, Miss L’s heart shaped pyjama button.|
Are there tasks, jobs, hobbies, occurrences that conjure up the voice of someone special? Have you got fond memories of learning a new skill from somebody? I’d love to hear more on this or any little legacy, in a post, or the comments. More on Little Legacy