memoir

Makers

For as long as I can remember my parents were makers. The act of working with one’s hands brings a special kind of joyful satisfaction that is not found anywhere else.

After a full day of work and caring for our family, the sun would set on another day and the moon would rise. Once Mom tucked my brother and I in bed for night, out would come Mom’s fabric, pins, cutting board and the quiet hum of her sewing machine would begin. Often, I would creep out of my bed and peek into the living room and see her sitting in the lamp light, cross-legged on the floor, holding a pin in her mouth, her gaze intent on the fabric in her hand.

For those hours she was consumed in the act of making. Far ahead of American Doll she was making my dolls and I matching flannel nightgowns, wardrobes for my barbies, superhero costumes for my brother. She found a quiet joy in the making hours.

Dad had a shop where his latest projects came to life. From loading his own shot gun shells, making fishing lures, refinishing wood pieces to crafting leather his hands were always at work, and were rough stained and often garnished with a piece of duct tape, acting as a band aide.

He spent hours in his shop, sanding, building, cutting, staining and stringing, and we were always welcome to join him.  The shop was a magical place, filled with the smell of wood and leather, and my brother and I were always invited to join.  Boxes and drawers were filled with trinkets and heirlooms and every piece had a story.

Dad’s shop sits empty now and my heart aches each time I peek in. I long to see him look up from his worktable with a smile and say, “Hey, baby girl!” when I pop in to visit. I long to hold his stained, rough hand in mine and feel his warmth.

As Mom balanced Dad’s care and working full time her sewing machine grew quiet for years.  On a dark winter morning the three of us huddled around Dad as his last breath passed from his lips and we all grew quiet, not sure what life would be like without him. I know this, life is less without him.

It would take a pandemic for Mom to pull out her fabric, her pins, and her cutting board.  Her sewing machine hummed once again as masks were made and pressed, a safe covering for family friends and neighbors. She was making again, and joyful satisfaction was found once more.

I have had many failed attempts at trying to find some way of making that would fill my bones as it did my parents.  I have drawers filled with cake decorating supplies, paint and brushes, glue guns, yarn and crochet hooks.  It wasn’t until I stuck my hands in the dirt, nurturing seeds as they rooted and grew, that I finally found the joyful satisfaction I had seen on their faces for myself.

Winter is long in the North East and a making had to be found to fill those long, dark months when plants sit quiet.  I found that words are like seeds, you write them out, bury them, go back and water them often, and they too will root and grow.

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