One Goddess and One in the Making
Part II: On the Nature of Genesis and Knowing What You Know
Patience and Discipline
Granddaughter had grown, well at least the Goddess thought (or hoped) so. Thirteen, still a tomboy, thoroughly resisting, and disgusted with the monthly red flow. Grandmother made one attempt to explain ‘this gift’ and how it brought granddaughter into the ranks of womanhood throughout the ages, and enabled granddaughter to someday have children if she chose…STOP! Enough already. Let’s get on with the sewing lesson which is why I was there. There had to be a dirt pile waiting to be explored, and my bike was calling me.
Yes, I had asked for sewing lessons from the master seamstress. She had learned from the French nuns growing up in an Italian orphanage until she was 16. Limos from the Hamptons came out and fancy people came into my grandmother’s humble (but immaculate) home. She’d sew wedding parties, banquet gowns, batmitzphas… Grandma could sew anything!
Week one of summer vacation sewing lessons
A tall wooden stool was placed a few feet behind and to the right of my grandmothers’ trundle machine and about 5 feet from her sewing table.
“SIT!” this really came out ‘SEET’. “Be quiet, don’t talk. Watch and listen. Learn Catherine (which came out Cathereene) Learn”.
I smiled silently and with great pleasure at the hint of exasperation I inspired in my grandmother, my teacher. I don’t know if she knew how much I took in, which was pretty much everything, and I was determined to keep her guessing. And so I sat.
The first day I sat. The second day I sat. The third day I sat. The fourth day I asked for a piece of her spearmint gum which she chewed constantly and refreshed often. All I received was a snarly glare.
The fifth day I sat. Thank god it was Friday and my sewing lessons for the first week were over! I had learned to sit. REALLY! ARE YOU KIDDING ME! OK, NEXT WEEK I’D BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHNG!!!!
Week two of summer vacation sewing lessons
Monday morning, filled with gusto, I had my approach ready. “Ok Grandma how can I help you this week? Wrong move. The great and glorious Goddess and master seamstress gave me incredulous smirk, then laughed and turned away while pointing and saying four words, “SIT, WATCH, LISTEN, LEARN!” Oh my God, are you kidding? I didn’t bother to ask; I knew the answer.
Week three of summer vacation sewing lessons
It was Friday morning of week three of sitting. As I crossed the long yards that connected my home to my grandmother’s, I was rehearsing how to tell her that ‘I Quit’. Actually I really wanted to yell it at her, but could never allow myself to do that.
I was talking out loud to myself, looking up to the sky and waving my arms around. My grandmother, unbeknownst to me, was in her glass breezeway watching me cross our yards to her home. I entered and she removed the smiling slice of orange from her lips. The grin continued, “And what’s the matter Cathereene? What, the angels gonna teach you to sew?” She laughed and walked toward the sewing room.
I was seething, I’d been had, my cheeks were hot. Forget dignity. Just as I was about to blurt out my failure and run, my grandmother, with shears in her hand, pointed to a beautiful piece of Kelly-green silk rose brocade and commanded, “Cut”.
I stopped short. Fumbled. Me? Cut? Did I really have to begin my career by potentially ruining a piece of such expensive beautiful fabric? “But Grandma…”
“Have you watched?”
“Have you listened?”
“Have you learned?’
“Do you know?”
At this I paused. My grandmother walked up to me so close the spearmint flooded my nostrils. “Do you know?”
For the first time in three weeks a rose soft smile crept across her face. And as my grandmother handed me the shears she said, “Cathereen, always know what you know.”
Back at the stool, I was welcomed by a single stick of centrally placed spearmint gum!