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Lessons Learned

September 18, 2013

As a child, I remember sitting on my grandmother’s lap at the kitchen table.  In front of us sat my mother’s brown Singer sewing machine, circa 1952.

I was young…maybe five or six when Grandma decided I was old enough to learn to sew.

Before I could start my project, I needed to learn the names of the different parts of the sewing machine.  Grandma taught me how to thread it properly…and how to put the bobbin in correctly.  She showed me how to set the stitch length and which lever to flip to stitch backwards.

Always a patient teacher, Grandma calmly instructed me, telling me how to position the fabric and guide it under the needle while keeping my fingers out of danger.  She controlled the speed for safety reasons and because my feet didn’t touch the floor.

I don’t remember what my first sewing project was…I’m sure it was something simple like a potholder or perhaps a blanket for my doll.

What I clearly remember is the time and patience my grandmother spent teaching me.  I remember the love.  She and I were in a world of our own during those precious times.

As a teenager, I made most of my clothes, and quite a few for my mother.  Occasionally, I made clothing for my best friend.

I’ve sewn many things over the years.  Everything from Barbie doll clothes to wedding dresses…curtains to dog beds.  I have made quilts and replaced broken zippers.  Friends and relatives count on me to do their mending.

None of those things would have been possible without my grandmother’s patient tutelage.

In the late eighties, I made my husband a camouflage fleece jacket.  He and I worked in the same hospital.  Jim was in maintenance and I was a nurse.

Jim’s co-worker, Gregory, admired that jacket and wanted me to make one for him.  He never really asked me though, it was more of an order, at times a demand…

Gregory would approach me saying, ‘Honey, make one of those jackets for me.‘

That grated on my nerves… First, I was not his ‘honey,‘ and second, I needed to be asked.  I would calmly reply ‘Gregory, all you have to do is ask nice and say please.’

The banter continued…Gregory would tell me to make his jacket.  I would tell him to ask.

Weeks passed;  they stretched into months.  Spring turned to Summer.

The duel dragged on…Gregory demanded a jacket;  I told him to ask.

It became a standing joke at work, both in the maintenance department and my unit.  Co-workers stopped me in the hall and inquired about the interaction.  Had Gregory asked for his jacket yet?  They encouraged me to stand my ground.

Three long months passed…

Gregory stepped off the elevator, strode around the corner, through the double doors and onto my unit.  I was in the medication room, across the hall from the office.  I heard him ask for me.

‘Jim said Karen is working today. Is she around?‘  Gregory inquired.

My co-worker could have sent him to find me, but curiosity got the better of her…later she told me that she wondered if this was ‘it’…the moment when Gregory would ask nice and say please.  She chose to fetch me herself.

As I approached, Gregory stepped into the hallway.

He has a loud voice, one that carries, and it resonated in the corridor.  People began to nonchalantly gather near. The unit secretary came to file documents into charts.  Other nurses needed to do their charting.  The unit manager had a message for his minions.

‘I have to talk to you,‘ Gregory said.  I nodded.  ‘Karen, will you please make me a camouflage jacket like Jim’s?’

‘Sure, Gregory.  Ask your wife to call me and I’ll let her know what supplies to buy.’

Gregory thanked me and made his exit.  Once he was gone, my peers applauded and congratulated me.

I had gained respect.

  1. Does that mean you know how to put the pressure foot back on????????

  2. Why yes, I believe it does…

  3. Found your blog via The Day and the life of Shareen A. Sorry about the splints. And the menopause. (got that from your title) 🙂 Ain’t it a b@#ch??

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