Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sewing Patches

Unskilled stitches erratically poke between fabric layers with fatigue. It's late, after midnight, as I finish sewing the corporal stripes onto a World War I doughboy uniform. I think of the small boy who will wear the uniform to go trick-or-treating. I think of his grandmother, Mimi, holding onto life by threads as she breathes through a tube and doctors plan one last attempt to bring her back to us. I will remember these imperfect stitches I did not plan. But then, who plans these things? Ok, if you read the headlines at the checkout, some do. For others, the inevitable comes full bore and without warning, like this thing with Mimi.

I stitch and tell the little boy that we might need to prepare ourselves for something sad as things may not work out for Mimi.  He tells me to be hopeful. I am, but I am also shaken enough to know that she is near a dangerous precipice. I sent her little boy to be at her bedside. 

My little boy and I watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, a TV special I've watched dozens of times, always with a craving for a snack cake. Vince Guaraldi plays the cheery jazz melodies from World War I for Snoopy's flying ace scenes-- It's a Long Way to Tipperary. My doughboy knows that and a few more. Heck, he taught me to sing the words. Although I've been watching that special since at least 1976, I never appreciated those songs until now.

We sing to keep away unpleasant, unproductive thoughts. No wonder the tunes are catchy, they have to be for soldiers. So I stitch for little boys, for the ones who make me feel hopeful, even on a grim night and hear joyful melodies in my head long after the show is over.