Monthly Archives: May 2023

Woven Threads of Friendship

Several of us were enjoying an intimate ladies’ luncheon. Conversation turned to when and under what circumstances each of us had come to our small town or if we had always lived here. From there we began chatting about various people in our church and community who had made lasting impressions on us. We sipped coffee and waxed enthusiastic about the Mott sisters, Mr. and Mrs. Harris Jefferson, Mr. Ben Mauldin, Dr. Singleton, Bonnie Manry, Mr. Cuy Broome, Norman and Minnie Pipkin, Madge Clark, the Askews and many more.

I listened to the stories about this one and that one learning new things about people I’d known for years. It was fascinating to hear the many different ways members of this one little group had been affected by so many mutual friends. Phrases like “Oh, you knew her?” and “Did you know he…?” or “Remember when…?” were tossed around with a mix of merriment and sadness.

Several mentioned the one who had invited them to First Baptist Cairo, others recalled a Sunday school teacher who had meant so much to them raising responses like “Oh, yes, I was in her class one year.” We talked about those who had faithfully cared for our babies in the nursery and others who had been there as a strong shoulder when disappointments and sorrows hit. We remembered fondly folks who kept things going like Raymond Hurst who claimed the ministry of keeping the First Baptist chimes playing, and “Miss Wessie,” librarian at Roddenbery Memorial Library who might call individuals to alert their attention to some book she knew they needed to read. “I’ll have it ready for you at the front desk,” she’d say positively. We laughed at many a funny tale including some interesting matchmaking endeavors, some that failed and some that were a great success.

After everyone had gone home, I thought about what a huge difference any one person can make in another’s life without even realizing it. What a witness Mr. Pipkin was in simply coming to church when he could no longer hear. When we opened a bank account, what if the clerk, Mrs. Jefferson, had not warmly invited us to her church?

Is it possible we, too, might make a difference in someone’s life as our friendships weave together like a colorful afghan in progress?


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A Mother’s Day Stitching Story

My mother taught me so much, so many things. She taught me how to knit and make mint jelly. She taught me how to make cornbread and sweep behind doors and under chairs. She taught me how to set the table and fold sheets. She taught me how to read and to love reading. She taught me that no is sometimes the best answer but if you’re going to say yes say it with enthusiasm. She taught me how to read Latin and do long division and to love poetry. But when it came to sewing Mamma didn’t succeed in teaching me very well.

She said it was time I learned to make my own clothes. Three older sisters had quickly learned. Now it was my turn. I remember being eager and excited when we went to Carey’s Department Store to choose a pattern and material. Mamma tried to steer me toward a simple shirtwaist pattern but I spied one that had a three-tiered ruffled skirt. Mamma finally reluctantly agreed to it. I chose seersucker cloth, some blue and some pink for alternating tiers. This was going to be beautiful!

We spread the material on a bed near the treadle sewing machine. I was disappointed to see the pattern pieces for tiers, sleeves, and bodice all had to be individually cut from the paper before we could even lay them on the cloth. Mamma said we must cut them all out and carefully lay them according to directions or we wouldn’t have enough cloth. When I finally started cutting after laboriously pinning every piece according to Mamma’s instructions, she quickly stopped me. What now? I wasn’t cutting accurately, she said. I must cut sleeves and all exactly with the pattern pieces or they wouldn’t fit when I started sewing.

Finally, all the pieces were cut and it was time to sew. I could hardly wait to see how my pretty dress would look! Maybe I’d even wear it that night. It wasn’t as easy operating that sewing machine as it looked when Mamma peddled with her feet and guided material under the needle. After a couple of seams which were anything but straight, Mamma said with patient frustration that I should wait till the next day to sew. “You’re tired,” she said. “It’s not good to try something new when you’re tired.”

Mamma tried to teach me how to make those ruffled tiers. I made the long basting seams which seemed like such a waste of time. Then when I tried to draw the stitches evenly into ruffles, the thread broke and I had to start over. Facings wouldn’t lie down neatly. Sleeves fought with me, determined to be crooked, unevenly stitched and just plain wacky.

After many days we finally finished the dress. Though I gave up several times, Mamma prodded me over and over until finally it was done, uneven hem and all. Then Mamma said, wiping her brow, “Honey, I think you’re just going to have to marry a doctor.”

The funny thing is I did marry a doctor, a veterinarian. But he wasn’t a rich doctor. We had two children and I did sew for them when they were little. Though I never became a good seamstress, I did at least have an idea how to put a garment together. No, my sewing lessons weren’t very successful. Mamma even told me not ever to wear that dress away from home!

But the life lessons I learned making that dress were invaluable and perhaps stuck better than the stitches did.

I learned you should start out simple. Better to do a good job with a simple pattern (or project) than to botch up a fancy one. Listen to good counsel (like a mother!) when making choices. Don’t take shortcuts. Follow directions. Finish what you start. And if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. Be ready to tear out seams and start over if that’s what it takes.

I think of my patient teacher mother when I read these verses from Proverbs 31:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies…Strength and honour are her clothing…She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue…Her children arise up, and call her blessed.


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Dingy, A One-Eyed Cat

Okay, he really has both eyes but one came out badly at the end of a fight he can’t even tell us about. It is squinched into a permanent wink (or is it a stare?), may let a little light in but nothing much else. It makes him look like a rogue or a villain or even a just plain ugly cat.

We had two cats and we were happy. Those two cats, Kramer and Bertha, are very hospitable cats apparently. They must have hung a sign in feline language out at the opening in our reed hedge because often strange cats come to dine at the banquet laid out in our carport. Though they came to eat, they wanted no relationship with us. Approaching the orange cat or the black one or the calico caused an immediate dash to safety, through the hedge or under the bushes.

Then came this cat with a squinched up eye, fur the color of old dishrags. At first he, too, was stand offish, would hide behind a tree if anyone looked at him. But he never really left. He was hungry for belonging even more than he was hungry for food. He had the loudest meow of any cat I’ve known. Maybe he was pleading with us to recognize he wasn’t as ugly as he looked. Our great-grandson, Kaison, got down on his knees with the cat and coaxed him to receive belly rubs. He declared this was his cat and named him Dingy. I’m not sure the name came because of his dingy coat color or just because Kaison liked the sound of Dingy.

Anyway, Dingy stayed. Kaison declared ownership and that was it.

Like all cats who wander into one’s yard through the hedge or past the mailbox, Dingy can’t tell us what his life was like before. He can’t tell us how he got that squinched up eye. He can’t tell us whether someone moved away and left him or whether he never really had a home. But he has learned to trust us in this his new life. And that’s what is important.

He has felt kind hands stroking his dingy fur and found friendship with two other felines. He enjoys visiting on the porch, especially lying on soft cushions. He likes to sun peacefully under the edge of an azalea bush and has an incredibly funny way of rolling over and over like a circus dog. He doesn’t seem to feel dingy in color or in spirit any longer. Rather, I believe he thinks he’s quite beautiful. As he is loved he’s learned how to love. As he has been treated as a beautiful cat, he has become a beautiful cat.

To borrow an idea from Forest Gump with minor changes, I think Dingy lives by the phrase “Beauty is as beauty does.”


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