The Sewing Room

Gen and Gloria went on in what appeared to be peace and stability for several years. Gen, with time on her hands after she retired in 1985, tended the home fires. Gen was a capable seamstress, but always had trouble seeing a project through. When she had the pressure of work and kids, she got the job done eventually, but after she retired, chaos took over in the sewing room.

Gen's sewing room, the third bedroom of her's and Gloria's house, was small, but big enough to hold a cutting table, the ironing board, the sewing machine, and a set of shelves. The shelves held boxes of fabric. A closet held works in progress and supplies.

Gen was an unrepentant hoarder of fabric. She had lengths of material that I remembered from Kansas. There was fabric of every imaginable color, fiber, synthetic and natural, for every conceivable sewing purpose from shoes to hats. She had scraps of fabric left over from joint sewing projects she and I had worked on when I was in junior high school.

Gen also had at least 15 linear feet of patterns, lined up like file folders in boxes she had been carrying around all my life. She still had patterns for clothing she had made for us when we were kids. She had patterns for dresses, shirts (men's and women's), purses, bedroom slippers, robes, jackets, stockings and socks, stuffed animals, Chrismas ornaments, hats, pot holders, towels, bedding.

But wait! There's more! The closet in Gen's sewing room held boxes of yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks and cotton, parts of long-departed sewing machines, tapestry needles, buttons, zippers, interfacing, velcro, elastic in every manufactured size and strength, and every sewing notion a seamstress could possibly use--marking chalk, pounce wheels, pins, needles, hooks and eyes, scissors, irons, hangers, gauges, tape measures, snaps, how-to books, and stuff I don't think Gen even knew what it was for. Gen had always kept the stuff meticulously stored. She knew where all of it was, if not WHAT it was or what she intended to do with it.

Something fell apart after Gen retired. She complained that she couldn't find anything in her sewing room--specifically, some correspondence from the dreaded Office of Workers Compensation. She asked me to come down to Richmond to help her sort things out. I agreed. Gen said, "Better bring Becky, too." I should have had an ominous feeling, but I was naïve. I figured the room looked mostly the way it did when Gen moved in and we'd have a nice visit while completing a simple task.