I’m sitting on the plane, waiting to take off from visiting my sister. She lives in Southern California, I live in the Houston area. We lost our mom 11 years ago and our dad 4 years ago. As far as family goes, we’re pretty much it. We’ve always gotten along really well, in spite of our 5 year age difference (she’s older – had to throw that in). As I sit on the plane (due to delays), she and I are exchanging texts and I’m thinking about how great she is. For a good portion of my life I have been significantly overweight, while my sister is just the opposite. I’m quite sure that if she still had her clothes from high school she could slip into them very easily. In fact, judging from the clothes we saw at Macy’s on our shopping trip together, she’d even be in style! In 2002 I thought I had left those weight struggles behind when I became a lifetime Weight Watchers member after a 133 pound weight loss. Ah, but life changes and apparently old habits die hard and I once again find myself carrying most of those pounds. What does this have to do with my sister? She was so proud of my weight loss and I loved being more her equal in the body size department. As I’ve regained the weight I’ve felt ashamed, and sometimes it makes visiting her hard because I don’t want to be a disappointment or embarrassment to her. As I hugged her goodbye she was sad to see me go – a scene we’ve enacted many times. I’m sad, too, but it usually hits me a bit later that I won’t see her face for several months or even a year. She goes home where I just was and misses me immediately. This time, as we texted our love to each other, I realized anew that her love for me (like mine for her) is unconditional and not dependent on my size. Perhaps I need to work on loving myself the way she loves me.
Last week was my first week of summer. I started every day watching the Today Show anchors talking about their dads, so there were a lot of moments of missing my dad last week. He passed away August 9, 2010. Besides watching TV, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing and reading posts on the quilting Facebook group I belong to. One of those posts over the weekend brought up a memory of my dad that I want to take a stab at writing about.
Two years ago I began teaching myself to quilt. I purchased the necessary tools, including a self-healing cutting mat. With sewing comes a lot of pressing, so I folded a towel and placed it on top of my table (and my new cutting mat) and pressed some seams – only to lift the towel and find that I had warped one corner of my brand-new cutting mat (that’s what the FB post was about over the weekend). Damaging my brand-new tool reminded me of my dad’s big metal carpenter’s square.
I saw that square many times over the course of my life. It was that square (actually an L shaped ruler) that helped me understand the importance of ninety degree angles in building and the truth that no room is completely “square”. One time, when I was out in the garage building with my dad, he told me the story of that square. It had been his father’s. When he was a young boy, his dad bought that square. Very soon after he bought it, my dad was using it and inadvertently nicked it with a saw. His father was so angry with him for “ruining” (it was a tiny nick) his new square, that he made him pay for it and that’s how the square became my dad’s.
Several years before he passed away, I was visiting Dad and was out in the garage watching him build something. On his work surface I saw a shiny brand-new square. I was surprised; that old square had been a part of everything Dad had ever built. I loved working with it. I asked him about the new one. He explained that the old one had bad memories for him. Every time he used it he remembered the boy who could never please his father. He didn’t want to remember that anymore, so he bought a new square. I asked what he had done with the old one. He still had it. I asked him to give it to me, so I could use it and remember all the good times spent working with him, seeing him use that old square, and using it myself. I wanted to “redeem” the memories of that old square, I said.
I took it home with me. For several years it leaned against the wall in my apartment, sometimes finding use when I made posters for my classroom. When I started quilting, it was one of my first tools. I still use it when cutting large pieces of fabric. Whenever I use it I think of Dad – not the little boy that could not please his father, but the father who was a hero to his daughter.
I just discovered the Slice of Life challenge. I know it’s not Tuesday, but if I wait till Tuesday to start I might not start.
Yesterday was Tuesday and my best friend of close to 30 years spent the day with me. We had a yummy Mexican food lunch, ran some errands, then came home to hang out for the rest of the day – she spent the night so I could take her to the airport at waaay too early in the morning. I decided I should “whip up” the little crossbody bag she’s been after me to make since I started sewing two years ago. We picked out some fabric out of my stash of fabrics, and she watched TV and chatted while I tried to plan out her little bag. I did it! I was proud of myself because I figured it out without any help from the internet. She loved it, and it was fun to be able to do that for her.
That’s a slice of my life.