In my planner for February is this quote:
Relationships are the fabric of our lives. They should be treasured every day, but sometimes we get caught up in the stresses of life and forget to express gratitude to those we love most. How can you show more appreciation and kindness this month?
This notion of relationships as fabric captivates me. Fabric is made of woven or knitted fiber. Some fabrics are delicate. Some are strong. Fabric can tear. I remember a skirt I bought as a teenager when I started making some steady money of my own. High-waisted, flared, houndstooth, almost ankle length. Tons of fabric. It hung in rippling folds, fabulous in its 1980s way. I adored it. I was wearing the skirt, and hadn’t had it long, on the day I knelt in the floor to pick something up and inadvertently stepped on it with my high heel, which tore right through the fabric when I stood up…rrriiiiiip.
A six-inch tear in the lovely houndstooth, to my horror. I might have cried (I cannot recall) but I wasn’t ready to pitch the glorious skirt.
I brought it to my mother.
She was a seamstress who worked for a major department store. She tailored men’s suits, fitted bridal gowns (“these girls want the dresses completely remade”), and took in sewing at home. Many a night she spread fabric across the kitchen table, pinned patterns, marked and cut the cloth with sharp scissors, a rhythmic snip-snip-snip. She made several stuffed animals, like mice and precious long-eared bunnies with a wardrobe of changeable clothes. Her work was stellar; everyone said so…
“Mom, can you fix this?”
I handed her my voluminous, mutilated skirt.
She considered the rip, held it closed with her fingers, puffed on the cigarette clamped in her lips.
“I can try.”
She fixed it. Not like I’d imagined. The stitching was bulky and obvious. “I had to go over it more than once,” she explained. It looked as big as a train track to me. Like the garish stitching on the Frankenstein monster’s brow.
I loved that skirt. I’d paid too much money for it to just throw it away. Maybe I was expecting magic…
I wore it anyway, hoping the long folds in the natural draping of all that fabric would hide the ugly scar. Most people never noticed, but I knew it was there.
Relationships are the fabric of our lives.
Fabric can tear. It can be mended, but it won’t be exactly as it was before the ripping.
So it is with relationships. We wear the scars in hidden places. How much could be avoided by careful attention and mindfulness in the first place…especially if we value a relationship…
Sometimes we get caught up in the stresses of life and forget to express gratitude to those we love most. Show more appreciation and kindness…
This goes a long way in preventing the ripping, the unraveling.
In every relationship, great or small.
The thing about relationships:
they never really end. They are
with us, always within us, inextricable as the
silkworm’s thread to silk fabric,
forming the infinite intricacies of our
days, our stories, our lives.
Photo: A Symbiotic Relationship. Fouquier ॐ. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
with thanks to the Slice of Life community at Two Writing Teachers
and the relationships forged by sharing our stories
8 thoughts on “Relationships are the fabric”
Fran, this is like a grand finale at an Independence Day fireworks show. The short narrative slice sizzles with repetition, the lines throughout pop with fiery emotions. And then at the end the big BOOM of the striking line in a Golden Shovel. You blended so much here and I had to read it several times and will return to it for more – I see something different each time. My mother, too, was an expert seamstress who made us matching dresses when I was little.
She made her own formal dresses, her wedding gown, my prom dresses. I inherited her machine. Yet another of our common threads.
And that skirt – you do so much with that rip in the context of relationship. I can see the 80s-ness of the skirt and I can hear the rip and feel the pain. You are rocking the reader’s world with your writing today!
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Oh, Kim – first, thank you; I’d been wanting to write to this quote for a few days and when the image of the skirt returned to mind, it was like a gauntlet thrown by the Muse: tie these together! I hoped it would work. I am convinced you and I are kin, somehow. My mother made many clothes for my sister and me when we growing up. She made my costumes when I was performing in high school plays. She made my bridesmaids dresses. I inherited none of her skill – but I have the memories and I take enormous delight in my daughter-in-law’s sewing ability. She made her own wedding gown. She will teach – is already teaching – my granddaughters to sew. I rejoice, as I so admire the craft and am glad to see it not dying out. I will need to explore more metaphor with sewing and relationships…meanwhile, again, deepest thanks to you, Kim.
My feelings are the same. Thank you. The scar remains in a relationship that has been broken. On the surface things may seem fine but somewhere far below the truth remains. Well written.
I was struck by these two sentences that have a lot of evocative power:
“She fixed it. Not like I’d imagined.”
And I enjoyed your poem.
The golden shovel concluding your reflections is a fitting way to conclude. I see it as a metaphor, too, each word a stitch in the poem. I’m not very good at maintaining relationships w/ people who have hurt me. I know this is not good, but I’m not the most trusting person, I loved reading about your mother and her skills, her art. I think about the rhetoric inherent in that skirt and am taken back to various clothing mishaps, including ripping dresses w/ my heels. I love the rhythm and poetic humming in your post today.
Loved your metaphor: “Relationships are the fabric of our lives.” And then your golden shovel poem.
You definitely wove the fabric of your thoughts through our minds and your past memories of your mother and the skirt! So much craft work in your post!
I love the idea that relationships never end. And the fact that your mom fixed your skirt but not exactly how you wanted it….feels somehow like a metaphor for that relationship? Always love stopping by your blog. Always leave feeling more and grateful for you.
Fran, your writing always ring strue with inspiration. Today you speak of formats and today I had so much difficulty finding my flow-which format to use-how to proceed. My muse took a short vacation. I could have used you as my muse with your wisdom and artful writing. Like you and Kim, my mother was an amazing seamstress and designer. She made all my prom dresses and when very young studied fashion design in NYC and worked in a fashionable 5th Avenue Lingerie Salon until the war started and was called home to a small town in Central NY. I learned to sew but did not continue with it because my mother lived with us so I relied on her. My takeaway today is these lines: “Sometimes we get caught up in the stresses of life and forget to express gratitude to those we love most. Show more appreciation and kindness…This goes a long way in preventing the ripping, the unraveling.” Absolutely beautiful in its inspirational way. Peace to you!