|The beloved apron.|
From about 1930 my friend Bird spent a lot of time in a closet turned into a sewing room, stitching away at shirts and dresses and whatever was needed to keep her twelve children clothed. All of them were born before I was, and Bird is now 99 years old. I didn’t get to see her on her birthday last September, but shortly before that I paid a visit and was concerned when I saw that Bird wasn’t wearing an apron.
|New and old fabric compared.|
She doesn’t do much cooking or cleaning anymore, though she lives by herself in an apartment. She wears an apron because she has tied one on every morning for most of her life and she doesn’t feel right without that part of her attire. I knew all that, so when she was lacking the essential garment I asked what was wrong.
Her apron was so tattered, she said, she didn’t want to wear it when she was having company. Oh, yes, she did have a newer apron that her children had bought her, but it didn’t fit right. She brought it out of a drawer, and I could see that it was way too large, made to accommodate the great number of our generation who fill more of an apron than our grandmothers did. Though I didn’t have a measuring tape, I took some measurements from the old favorite, using a sheet of paper for the ruler, and when I went home I drew up a proper design, thinking I could make her one. But nothing came of my idea for a long time.
Without shame, I returned to visit last month and found Bird in the oversized apron. But knowing that I would be returning to her city in about three weeks, I asked if I could take her old apron with me this time, to use for a pattern. She took it out of a drawer, clean and neatly folded, though unusable, as the neck strap was broken through.
When I returned with the old apron, I looked among my stacks of fabrics and was amazed to find something that resembled what I imagined the old apron had looked like before it faded. My piece of Guatemalan fabric had been bought to fix a mistake I made in measuring for a tablecloth fifteen years ago, a tablecloth that never got made at all. So the fabric waited around, being the perfect replacement for the old apron, until all the parts of this story came together.
Today was the end of the story, or the beginning of the life of the new apron. I managed to meet my own deadline of this day, when I went to an appointment in her town and dropped the apron off beforehand. Bird was very pleased. She tied the apron on immediately and said that she felt properly put together again.