My mother loved sewing all her life. When I was 4, she sewed a beautiful dress for me to wear to my cousin’s wedding.
Even though she tried to teach me over the years, sewing was one skill I did not inherit from her. In fact, it was one of my worst subjects in school. One time I had to sew a blouse but I kept making mistakes and it looked awful, so I sneaked it home in my school bag and implored Mom to fix it for me.
“But don’t make the blouse look too good,” I begged, “or the teacher will know I didn’t do it on my own.”
Years went by and I got married and presented Mom with three cute little grandsons. She tried to sew outfits for them, but for some reason boy’s clothing turned out to be the only thing she wasn’t able to make very well.
“If only you had a little girl, I’d love to sew pretty little dresses for her,” she’d tell me.
But by the time my long-awaited daughter arrived 10 years after her oldest brother, Mom was sadly unable to sew any more. She spent the last nine years of her life sitting paralyzed in a wheelchair in a nursing home. At least she did have the joy of seeing her only granddaughter, teaching her the same little songs she’d once taught me.
After my mother’s shiva, a friend gave me a beautiful party dress that her only daughter had just outgrown. It was a gorgeous dress in perfect condition, fit for a princess. My daughter Deborah, then 8 years old, fell in love with it but the dress was still several sizes too large for her.
“You’ll have to wait until you grow big enough to fit into it,” I explained to her.
A few months later our neighbors invited us to their daughter’s wedding. Since I was still in the year of mourning, I wasn’t able to attend, but Deborah was excited since she was friendly with the bride’s youngest sister.
“Can I wear that pretty dress to the wedding?” she begged.
“Try it on, but it still looks way too big for you,” I replied.
“Oh, please, Mommy, can’t you fix it and make it smaller so it will fit me?” Her big brown eyes pleaded with me.
“I wish I could, sweetie, but I’m not good at sewing,” I told her. “How I wish Bubby was here. She could fix this dress for you in a flash. I’m afraid I’ll ruin it.”
Deborah went to bed sadly, a look of disappointment on her little face.
Afterwards, I picked up that beautiful dress in my hands, studying it carefully. I wistfully recalled the perfect little dress my mother had sewed for me to wear at my cousin’s wedding many years ago. If only my mom could help me now…
Then something very strange happened. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me what to do.
“Pick up the scissors and start cutting off that big hem at the bottom. Yes, keep going, that’s right, cut it all off.”
Cautiously, I held the scissors in my hand and listened to my mother’s voice giving me sewing instructions. I was surprised to hear my mother’s voice talking to me like that. Though we had been close, this was the only time it ever happened.
“Now thread the needle, yes, like that, and make a tuck in the belt…”
At one point I kind of messed up—the thread wasn’t quite long enough and I was pulling it too tight. Then I heard my mother’s voice telling me impatiently, “No, not like that! Do it over.”
I did and somehow, miraculously, I finished altering that lovely dress.
The next morning Deborah was overjoyed to find the dress. Immediately she tried it on—and it fit her perfectly! She thanked me profusely, but sounded puzzled.
“But Mommy, you said you didn’t know how to fix it.”
I didn’t, I thought, it was Bubby who told me what to do.
I realized then that my mother’s dream had finally been fulfilled after all—she had made a dress for her granddaughter just like she’d always wanted.