She’s always been the kid deliriously in love with life — the one that flies out the door, looks up at menacing clouds darkening the sky and bursts into song, “Oh, it’s a beautiful day! Oh, it’s a beautiful day! Beautiful, beautiful day!”
She’s a 7-year-old whose eyes dance, whose arms and legs dance and who is always in motion because that is the nature of joy overflowing.
And then her daddy started to travel for work. Not a lot, just a few days every few weeks.
She grew quiet. The color drained out of her face, and she got this sad, faraway look.
Her eyes stopped dancing, and she quit singing.
Oh, to be a father so deeply loved.
They told her crying wouldn’t help. She cried anyway. One day she cried for two hours.
He got her a special nightshirt to sleep in when he’s gone. She still cried.
He called or Facetimed with her every day when he was gone, but her eyes still didn’t dance, and she still didn’t sing.
Then one day I asked her momma to hem something for me. It was only fair since her momma had possession of my sewing machine.
She watched her mother at the machine and announced she wanted to learn to sew. She began sewing straight lines on fabric scraps. Then she sewed the scraps together and made patterns.
Her mother found a child’s sewing machine safe for her to sew on by herself. She was off. The crying began to ebb.
She asked if I knew how to make an apron. I spread tissue paper on the floor the same way a great-aunt had done for me years ago and had her lie down on it. Then I traced her and showed her how to pin the pattern and cut the fabric.
She took it home, stitched the edges down, sewed on ribbon ties and added a pocket. The color came back to her cheeks.
The last time her daddy was gone, she sewed a skirt for her little sister. It’s so tight, her little sister can’t walk when she has it on, but they’re both proud of it.
When I left home and moved 2,000 miles away, my mother embroidered a coverlet with beautiful red roses and then quilted it by hand one stitch at a time.
When I had my first two babies and was still far from home, I hooked a rug. I’d never made a rug. I worked on it at night when the babies were asleep, and my husband worked evenings.
It’s funny how your hands can take your mind off your heart, how doing something for someone else is always a good elixir.
The young seamstress is working on a Paris pillowcase. It’s pink fabric printed with the Eiffel Tower. Her dad is out of town again, but she’s so busy she hardly notices.
Her little sewing machine is humming, and so is she.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.