my greatest teacher

My mom is an incredible seamstress.  Her part-time job in high school was sewing sample outfits for mannequins and models for her hometown department store.  She didn’t sew very often during my lifetime, but whenever I did see her sit down to her machine, it was clear she was a natural.  Every seam perfect, her expert fingers sliding across the fabric with smooth, polished skill.



I learned to sew at the end of high school, during a six month period of time when I could often be found hunched over the machine with a furrowed brow.  My best friend and I tacked the ambitious project of sewing our own prom dresses, and Mom provided invaluable assistance.  When I melted part of the lining of my dress with a too-hot iron, she was able to alter the pattern and the dress ended up looking great.  When Catherine didn’t quite have her hem completed on the day of prom, Mom came to the rescue.  We couldn’t have done it without her. 

I went off to college, and I stopped sewing.  Unfortunately, six months of sewing like crazy over a decade ago didn’t impart me with everlasting skill, and I have forgotten most of what I learned.  When my mom moved to Arizona, I swore I would bring a sewing project and spend a weekend with her, re-learning her craft.  I never did– life seemed busy, life was busy.  And we had lots of time, right? 

I wish that had been true, and now it is too late.  That my mom didn’t re-teach me to sew is only a small regret of many. But it is another silvery thread of hope, swallowed by the dawn of a new life, a new beginning without my mom to guide me forward.

In contrast, my wise mother doesn’t waste her time on regret.  She has coped with her illness by being in the moment, a true zen master in the body of a middle aged woman from Minnesota.

She often isn’t concious or responsive, but last night she opened her heavy eyelids, and saw a group of family and friends surrounding her.

You all look great, she said. And smiled.

Mom is taking in all the gifts that life has to offer, even during her last days.   She doesn’t live in her head, but in her heart.  She spends her moments taking in love, and letting go of what could have, should have been. She is still my greatest teacher.

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