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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Sewing (02/22/07)

TITLE: Darning Socks
By Connie Pilston Shoemaker


“Do you have any black thread?” asked Grandma Norris as she sat on the couch examining my husband’s holey socks. “Uh I think so, for what?” I asked. “Brian’s socks have all these holes in them and they need darned,” she replied. “You are going to darn socks? Do people still do that these days?” I queried. “Yes, they need a good sewing,” she said sorting through the Ziploc bag I handed her with a mishmash of thread, needles and pins. “Don’t you have a sewing kit” she asked. “You’re looking at it,” I replied as my husband’s grandmother undaunted, set to work tending to the socks and spinning the tales of her youth.

Grandma Dorothy was like that. She always tended to others before thinking of herself. She spent a lot of time with us the summer of 2000. I was in a tenuous pregnancy with my third baby. Grandma had lost her husband and was currently living in between relatives. She was adrift and unsure of her destination; much like I was.

We took her to an amusement park and she rode like a kid who was twelve. We went on a boat ride on a lake and she simply had a ball. That was Grandma Dorothy, no matter where she found herself she tried to make life fun; a good lesson for me during that time when I was so burdened.

I am not sure who was helping whom that summer as she sewed everything in our house that was ripped, torn, holey or on its way to ripping. While she was sewing, God was knitting together in my womb somewhat of a mystery and Grandma was keeping my sanity from unraveling. The baby inside had issues the doctor said and gave us the option to terminate the pregnancy which we opted not to take. Grandma spent the summer pondering the life she’d soon lay down while I stressed about the new life that would soon spring forth.

Grandma kept calling the baby a girl. As she would talk to me, she would occasionally touch my growing paunch and pat her great granddaughter who she hoped would have red hair just like her beloved husband, Vernon. Red hair was not likely if you look at the genetic make of my husband and me but Grandma wouldn’t hear of it. She would have red hair.

Summer flew by as she read to my two little ones, darned, helped me in the kitchen, watched my toddlers in the pool and just enjoyed time spent with family.

Often grandma, who taught Sunday school for years, would break into little church songs which she taught to Jacob and Hannah. Other times she regaled us with stories about barges and ferryboats, burnt peanut butter cookies and life growing up in Cumberland Maryland. These stories she would repeat many times during her stay.

She used old fashioned words and quoted poetry much to my delight. She had sayings for everything and used them frequently. I learned a lot about what it must feel like to live out the last chapter of your life. To know that the end was near and to reflect back on what had been accomplished and what was left undone.

Most of her stories trickled out while she was sewing, or darning as she called it. My heart was heavy that summer not knowing how life would change with this new baby who according to the doctors would have some special needs. But grandma’s stories of things she’d overcome began to weave in me a determination and gave me a glimpse of the stock this child was coming from.

We said a tearful good bye to grandma in September at the airport with plans for her to visit next summer. She placed both hands on my stomach and said “I can’t wait to play with my little red headed great granddaughter when I return.”

One month later on a sunny Sunday morning the phone rang. She had died while getting ready for church. It was quick and she was gone.

One month later I gave birth to a perfectly healthy red headed baby girl. One day someone looked at Rachel and said, “Where did you get that red hair?” Having heard the story, she said, “Grandma gave it to me at the airport. It was my grandfather’s.” I have to believe someone in heaven smiled that day.

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This article has been read 666 times
Member Comments
Member Date
cindy yarger03/01/07
I enjoyed this. I liked how you told what the doctors said and then took your confidence from the stock of the family itself. Good job!
Elizabeth Bussey03/02/07
Very touching story. The title caught my attention because you don't hear of people darning socks anymore. And isn't that exactly what you stated! I melted right into your story with good memories of my own.
Myrna Noyes03/02/07
Very sweet story, and I liked the ending a lot! There were a few punctuation errors, though, and in your opening paragraph, it would have been easier to read if you had separated the words of the two speakers. I did enjoy the theme of life beginning and life ending, and I was very impressed with Grandma Dorothy's character! Good job! :)
Mo 03/02/07
Nice job & great ending!
Jacquelyn Horne03/03/07
I really enjoyed this heartwarming story. I would have liked to see a few of Grandma Dorothy's sayings quoted. Good job.
Michelle Burkhardt03/04/07
A very sweet story and tribute to your grandmother. I loved the ending. Great job.
Patricia Casey03/08/07

I love that your daughter was born with fiery red hair, as predicted by Grandma Norris.

In Jesus' Name,