The old sewing box came down with a crash as my still sleeping foot caught the edge ot it. Aspirin first, I thought. Then I'll deal with the sewing mess. I'm not sure if it was the pounding from my headache or the fact that I was up at 3 a.m. that convinced me I could walk barefoot across the contents of the spilled sewing box. The sharp pain in my toe quickly convinced me— sewing mess first, then aspirin.
I cautiously took a step back and felt along the side of the wall for the familiar light switch. I sat on the hardwood floor and removed the needle that had found a resting place in my toe, relieved to find only a little blood. That was not another mess I wanted to deal with tonight. In the brightness of the incandescent light, each pin and button seemed to sparkle. One by one, I carefully picked them up and placed them into the dust-covered sewing basket.
I continued on my way to the bathroom for the aspirin, my head still throbbing and my toe now joining in its painful rhythm. Down the hall a faint glimmer caught my eye. How I saw it in my still-asleep, pain-reliever driven state, I'll never quite know. I stopped to investigate the mystery gleam from along the baseboard. I figured it was a needle who had escaped from its return to the dingy sewing box.
Reaching down to pick up the object, I discovered it was indeed an escapee from the sewing box. But it was not a needle, or a button, or a hook and eye. It was, instead, the silver thimble my grandmother had given me when I graduated from college.
I hadn't looked at it in years. Once again on the floor, I found myself examining the piece of silver resting on my palm, its only decoration a single rose bud. Rose had been my grandmother's name, a name passed on to me in the form of Rosemarie. As I sat there with the object of my namesake, I recalled my grandmother, sitting up so many nights late to finish all the mending. Her thimble and a cup of hot tea were her two faithful companions when the rest of us made excuses (we needed to go to bed or to go out so we wouldn't have to watch her fingers labor over our clothing).
By the time I had graduated from college and was preparing to leave home for law school in Boston, Grandmother's arthritis had gotten so bad that the mending was now taken to a local dry cleaners or alteration shop in town. She insisted that I have her thimble, because after the harsh eastern winters, my clothing would need mending.
I know if she saw the ever-accumulating pile of unmended clothing next to the sewing box in the hallway, she would have gone to work on it, even if it pained her fingers to do so. I felt a twinge of guilt when I looked at that mending pile and was relieved to see the dress I wore to her funeral amongst the many shirts and pants.
I just didn't have time for that sort of thing. Between the countless hours I put in at the perfect job I went through ten years of grueling school work to attain, and the time given to the perfect man I married in my dream wedding dress that my grandmother helped to make, and the hours spent teaching that brilliant little girl of mine, who complained about being named after a poet instead of a flower, the mending was pushed to the bottom of the list. The thimble, along with the memories of my grandmother, had been hidden at the bottom of the sewing box.
I could hear the grumble of my husband asking where I had gone. I thought before I returned the thimble to its resting place, I might try it on. My thumb slid into it with great ease. Much to my surprise the grooves that my grandmother had worn into it fit my thumb perfectly. It had a warm and familiar feel, like an old pair of jeans just out of the dryer. I kept the thimble on, for the bottom of the sewing box seemed an unfit place for it.
"Hon, are you okay?" a concerned voice called from the bedroom. I stood up and walked to the door and looked at the beautiful face of the man I loved, barely lit by the hallway light.
"I'm fine," I answered him. "I just knocked over the sewing box and had to clean it up. Let me get an aspirin and I'll be right back." He smiled and blew me a kiss. I wondered when I had last looked at my wedding dress.
With the thimble still on my thumb, I walked into the bathroom, careful not to upset the sewing box again. When I'd taken my aspirin, I slowly removed the thimble.
I wanted it to be in a place where I would remember it in the morning, so I set it just beside my toothbrush.
Walking back into the hall, I picked up the dress with the buttons missing that I had worn to my grandmother's funeral, and the little dress with the roses on it that was always my daughter's favorite.
I hoped that they both would still fit, for tomorrow, I thought as I walked into my bedroom, my perfect job could wait; I had mending to do.
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