a.legacy. (of) stitches.

I dreaded visits to The Hester Girls, my great-aunts aging into a strange, ornery brew at their old home-place in Randolph County, Alabama.  Dot, in a tobacco-wrinkled scrunch, snipped and scowled in the corner.  Wide-plank Polly boomed across the bare floorboards in her black lace-ups, cheek moles quivering.  Eula glowed and smiled, beatific.  Relief from their watchful eyes came in the form of pies.  Always freshly-made and casually arrayed on the kitchen table, I hovered there, watching amber beads collect on the high necks of soft meringue.

The other day, Mother pulled out a tablecloth I had never seen – covered, the full length of it, in exquisite, subtle, demanding, beige-on-white embroidery.  It was a wedding gift from Dot, she said, now almost sixty years ago, made from her own leathery hands.  I was astonished; the skill, the long hours, the generosity of it – secrets I had never suspected.

It was the day my Mother turned eighty.  Friends and family were dropping by to plant their kisses on her youthful cheeks. I would drape the table in Dot’s handiwork, newly revealed, and sprinkle it with meringue-y things to sweeten the day.

It didn’t fit the table.  No matter – I’ll swing it this way; I’ll cover the gaps.  I seemed determined to feast that day from the hand of Dot – her legacy now complicated with this beauty.

I realized then that I will be astonished for a long time by the gifts of those who have gone before me.  I will taste the goodness of life on a table they prepared for me – even the ones I misunderstood.  I will feast, and in feasting be surprised by what unlikely gifts still may be uncovered.

Pies, in their high fantasy of froth, will always please me.  Elegant stitches pierce me with their loveliness.  But the hands of the women who line the story behind me  leave their legacy everywhere.  Hidden in the drawers of my heart.

Happy Birthday, Mother.

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~ by Susan on 10/29/2010.

3 Responses to “a.legacy. (of) stitches.”

  1. It was a beautiful table, with beautiful cloth, making a beautiful birthday party, for a beautiful mother, under the beatific gaze of a proud husband. The beautiful daughter wove every detail into a worthy legacy.

  2. Lovely lovely, how beautifully woven and stitched your words and reflections are, and how dear the pic of Wilodean. Pierced indeed. Thanks for sharing the meringue.

  3. A lovely tapestry is your mother. Your story, a lovely gift for her.

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