Prying open the cardboard box, I felt the same wonder and delight I had felt thirty years before. The crumpled, bumpy rainbow in the box before us turned into a beautiful collection of doll clothes as my daughter and I carefully lifted each garment from the depths.
“Who made these, Mommy?” she asked, lifting a crocheted, red dress and holding it in front of her baby doll.
“Your great-grandma; Mommy’s grandma made them for Mommy when I was little like you.” I dropped a worn, lace trimmed, flannel nightgown over her teddy bear’s head, struggling to pull his fuzzy arms into the sleeves. “That’s cute. What do you think?” I held the bear up for her inspection, wishing that the matching child’s nightgown had not disappeared all those years ago.
She giggled at the bear. “Your grandma sewed jammies just like you do?” she asked, hugging the bear tight.
“My grandma made everything!” I exclaimed. “Come here, I’ll show you.”
Wandering through the house, I pointed out all the pictures that Grandma painted, the ornaments and doilies she crocheted, the quilts and comforters she sewed, and the dishtowels she embroidered. I rummaged through both of our closets, showing my daughter the special garments which had been passed down through several generations: intricately embroidered, western-style shirts, cable knit sweaters, even a few of my grandmother’s casual housedresses.
“Mommy, she made everything!” my daughter exclaimed in wonder.
“Yeah, she did. Do you want to see my favorite things she made?”
I lifted two tiny outfits out of the box sitting in the middle of the living room floor. Barbie’s velvet evening gown contrasted nicely with Ken’s leather jacket and blue jeans.
“They’re so little, Mommy.”
“And so perfect.” I spoke softly, fingering the tiny seams and the intricate details. “Go get your Barbie dolls. Let’s try these on them.” A tear rolled down my cheek as I listened to my daughter rummage through the toy box in her bedroom. I missed my grandmother. I can’t remember a time in her life when her sewing machine was not set up in a well-lit corner, always ready for immediate use.
My grandmother stitched more than clothing, gifts, and household items on that machine. She mended more than torn pockets and fraying seams. She stitched five generations’ worth of life’s fabric, securing all of us together forever with her love.
During all of the afternoons she spent helping me learn to sew and follow the directions on a pattern, what she really taught me was how to love, unconditionally, with a passion. With a passion that still shows today in the rows of tiny stitches on Barbie’s velvet evening gown.
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