Pushing the mother-daughter envelope


Lori Clinch

My dear and precious mother is quite the seamstress. She can easily stitch a sachet and needlepoint like it’s her job, and she’s the best at darning socks.

When it comes to family mending, she’s our go-to gal. We bring her our torn britches, snagged jackets, and each and every flawed seam in need of repair.

On occasion, she’ll complain a little. She’ll let us know that she’s not on the payroll, that she’s not at our beck and call, and that she won’t — and, I reiterate, will not — be taken advantage of.

Yet there’s nothing that gets my mother’s attention like a pile of undone mending. We all know that it’s only a matter of time before she tends to the task at hand, fixes things up and soon returns our tattered wares looking good as new.

I have needles and thread in my possession, don’t get me wrong. I could crochet an afghan, knit you a cap, or embroider tea towels and linens ad nauseam.

I have the ability to do all of that. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to.

In an emergency, I’ll sew a button on a pair of slacks or do my classic hidden stitch on a hem, but I keep it at that.

It’s just that Mom does it so much better.

When I held up a tattered, antique quilt to the light last month and pondered a purchase, my dear friend Terrie said to me, “It’s too far gone.”

“Nonsense,” I replied. “It still has personality and charm, and all of these small holes are part of its history.”

I could feel its warmth, I sensed its character, and I said with adoration, “Just imagine if this quilt could talk.”

“If that thing could talk,” Terrie scoffed, “it would beg you to lay it to rest once and for all.”

I suppose if I had to whip out my sewing needle and re-stitch every tear and broken seam myself, I would have thought better of purchasing the quilt. But, you see, I have my dear and precious mother.

When I did a “popin” last week, Mother should have become suspicious. But, bless her heart, she displayed true and homespun happiness as I walked in the door.

“What’s that?” she then asked as she eyed the quilt suspiciously.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” I quickly replied as I placed it on her dining room table and far from her sight. “It’s just a wonderful old quilt that’s in need of a few minor repairs. There’s no rush, mind you. It’s simply something to do in your spare time.”

The thing about my dear and precious mother is that she has no time that she considers spare. She fills every minute of her day doing one project or another. Knowing that, I got back out the door before she had a chance to look at the quilt.

“Hello,” she answered my call the very next day. Although “hello” is normally considered a welcomed salutation, her greeting was anything but. In fact, she sounded a smidge bitter and, dare I say, a tad bit angry.

“What,” she asked, “is this mess that you brought me?”

“Isn’t that quilt so beautiful?” I replied as I swallowed hard and prepared for the onslaught.

“This,” she said slow and methodically, “is the worst mess that I’ve ever seen. It has holes, it’s tattered, and it would be easier to create it from scratch.”

As the conversation wore on, I could almost hear her stitching as she chastised me. She did not internalize her frustration; in fact, she was quite vocal. I quickly regretted my phone call and even went so far as to try to fake a call on the other line.

Yet, she was not to be had. She talked about her feeble hands and my uncaring ways, and quoted scripture that may or may not have had anything to do with a mother doing her daughter’s mending.

Word has it that the stitching is now complete and the storied quilt is as good as new — in an old sort of way.

I just pray that the darned thing can’t talk. After what that quilt has been through in the past couple of days, I don’t think I want to hear what it has to say.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to loriclinch2010@gmail.com.