Consider this story a late Mother’s Day post. The inspiration came to me this morning as I considered the next chapter of my memoir, Little Sister. In the end, I decided it didn’t fit well with the chapter I was writing, but it might make a good blog post.
In her early years of motherhood, Mom struggled to raise six kids in the heart of the Depression and Dustbowl. She said that one year my father asked her to clothe all the children for the winter with just twenty dollars.
She became an expert at patching and remaking clothing. The girls wore dresses made from flour sacks. She even made coveralls for the boys, judging by one of the photos from that era.
Her bad-tempered old sewing machine was a constant source of frustration through those years. Then in 1940, Mom did something unheard of—she purchased a sewing machine on credit.
She ordered the Singer treadle sewing machine from Fargo on April 13 for $110. For the next several years, she made $3-5 payments each month with money she earned from selling cream and eggs. The machine had a dressmaker head to handle heavy fabrics, such as denim and wool.
She used that machine for over forty years to make clothing for herself, and her children and grandchildren. She patched jeans, designed winter coats, and sewed formals for her daughters. One of her granddaughters now has the machine. The three original bobbins and the receipts are still in it.
In later years when there was less need to make garments, Mom pieced quilts and sewed them together on her Singer. Then she set up a quilting frame in her living room and quilted them by hand. She seldom bought new fabric for quilts. Instead, they were made of remnants she stored in a clothes hamper.
After I came along and we moved to town, she began working fulltime. She always had a job where she stood on her feet all day. Yet, at night after the household chores were finished, she’d take out her latest sewing project and work on it.
Mom loved to sew the way I love to write. It was her passion.
Perhaps the steady thrum of the thread being pulled along its route, the whirl of the wheel dipping up and down, and the sigh of the treadle moving back and forth brought peace to her insecure life.
When she moved into Grandma Muir’s house, she clipped a copy of the Serenity Prayer from a magazine and framed it. For the rest of her life, it hung over her sewing machine.
The prayer reminds me of an old hymn that Mom surely sang in church for most of her life. What a Friend We Have in Jesus was written by Joseph Scriven, who endured much heartache and hardship in his life. One of the lines says, “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!” There is no greater peace than to trust God for the outcome of things we can’t control.
May you find that serenity today!
Many thanks for ordering my books and sharing them with others. It’s so much fun to hear from readers! That’s especially true because I haven’t been able to do book signings or events yet this year.
Friendship is sewn by love and measured by kindness.- Anonymous
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