I saw a bumper sticker years ago that read "She who dies with the most fabric, wins." I should have had that engraved on my mother's tombstone. She was the queen of fabric scraps, with an attic and closets filled with leftovers from sewing projects. When I was first married, she pieced a quilt from bits and pieces of clothing she'd sewn for me throughout my childhood, and I remembered each and every garment as I admired the quilt.
I swore, however, that I wouldn't be the one to win the fabric contest. I try valiantly to throw away bits and the odd quarter yard when I'm finished with a project, but it hurts me all the way to the bottom of my heart. Admittedly, I have a few boxes filled with material "too good" to toss. But my real hoarding instincts kick in with the garments. The romper I made for my first child, on which I did a counted cross stitch of her initials. The Halloween costumes. The Easter dresses. In fact, I have a hand-smocked dress my grandmother made for my mother in the early 1930s, which my eldest wore in a school play. My great-aunt's lace dress hangs in a closet, one her mother, my great grandmother, made for her when she was a new bride. They mean more than clothes to me. They're part of the women who made, and wore, them.
I was folding clean dish towels last night when I did a doubt-take a one linen number, well-worn and perfect for drying crystal. No one's name was embroidered on the hem. I need to explain that giving linen dishtowels with one's name embroidered on the hem is a tradition in my family. When tossing out the remnants of an estate, we NEVER toss a linen dishtowel. Hence, I have a stack embroidered with "Nada," "May," "Gertrude," and "Judy." And I use them every day, remembering the women behind each towel. We are bound by fabric, needle, and thread.
I need to stitch some new towels with new names. It's time to carry on the tradition and the memories.