a collaborative project
During my last visit to North Carolina, my mom pulled out a green plastic bag as I watched TV in her bedroom. She said, “I have something for you. I am not sure if I should give it to you or to Jill, since she is the oldest granddaughter.” I was completely speechless, just wondering what was so delicately wrapped in the pink tissue.
There was a white apron adorned with the craziest array of items I had ever seen. If you know my mom, you can imagine that she was completely giggling at this point. I just sat there with my mouth open. She told me that Janet had come by to deliver the apron. She explained that Memaw had made it while living at the nursing home and thought that we would like to have it. Janet had been so sweet to my grandmother, who had lived there for over a dozen years. We knew how much she loved Memaw and we appreciated all of the care that she gave her.
I thought about it. Being the sentimental person that I am, I could not say no. And I am sure that Jill is not exactly jealous. Just how can you use an apron with all of this bling on it? A set of old keys, a monogram medallion with the gold wearing off, and a bolt and jingle bell tied together by a teal bow. It was baffling. But I am sure that it was a great activity for her to participate in as she passed by the countless afternoons in the rest home.
The most promising factor was the ribbon and her handwork that borders the front pocket. I could see my Memaw here. So I took the apron, knowing that I had to remove those items. Otherwise most of the functionality was lost.
This weekend instead of doing another item on my list, I found myself taking the scissors and cutting off the rough knots in the back of the apron. I began to remove almost every stitch that she made. Looking back on it now, I do feel a little guilty. But I was careful to save the string so that I could reuse it for the buttons. I planned to add them back in a more simplified, and let’s just call it edited, version of the apron.
While I worked, I sat and thought about all of the times that I spent with my Memaw. The handmade clothes that my mother had made for us. The small threader that I would find on the dresser in the front bedroom. I always thought that they looked like little awards. The spool of twine that was on the top of the basement steps, which I got when we cleaned out her house. The color of her carpet. The green pillows we would lay on watching tv. Her soft arms. The sound of her voice. The large walk-in closet that housed the abandoned games and toys of our older cousins.
That’s why we hold onto things. The value of memory and who they make us. I knew that it was really important to make this object into something that I loved that much more. Maybe I did change her original design, but I did not want it to end up in the bottom of a drawer. Artists collaborate all of the time. So do family members. And now we have, with just large gaps in between. I do love my apron. It is simple, beautiful, full of memories and just what I needed.