Bridge to my youth
It’s amazing how a child’s casual query can make the past come alive.
I was helping my 7-year-old grandson Rafa put on his shirt that I repaired because a side seam burst open as he was playing when he asked, “How old is Stitch, Lola?”
Thinking of the ET in the Disney cartoon “Lilo and Stitch,” which he often watched on TV with his 3-year-old brother
Gabby, I said I had no idea.
I reminded him of what he had told me: that Stitch is an alien that crash-landed on Earth.
I was astonished when he smilingly said he meant my “Stitch buddy” (pointing to my sewing machine) and not to Lilo’s friend.
I surmised it’s because he often saw me at the machine that he called it my buddy.
Asked why he wanted to know its age, he replied: “Your Stitch works fast like you do, Lola. So maybe it’s a senior, too?”
Then he was waving at me, saying, “Thanks, Lola!” and rushing out to resume playing in the terrace.
That exchange happened last year when Rafa and Gabby were vacationing in our house. Now, whenever I work with my “Stitch buddy,” the happy incident always comes to my mind and makes me smile.
Stitch will be 50 years my buddy come December — technically not yet a senior (as Rafa wanted to know) but approaching the golden years.
I bought it brand-new in 1968 with my first Christmas bonus from my first job at a multinational pharmaceutical company after college. Yet, it still looks like new, its varnish unfaded by time, its performance smooth and trouble-free as ever.
It seemed that I passed through a time warp as memories from my youth flooded my mind one nostalgic afternoon.
I grew up seeing my mother doing a lot of sewing at home, making curtains, bed sheets, seat covers, etc. Her sewing skills gave our simple house a special charm.
As a little girl, I remember how thrilled I was whenever my mother made me a new dress, which I proudly wore during playtime with the neighborhood kids.
In high school, I enjoyed using my mother’s sewing machine to do projects for our home economics class. I told myself I would have my own sewing machine to enjoy — someday.
Clearly, Stitch is a dream come true. With it began sewing adventures that made me discover another side to myself. After attending a short, after-office course in dressmaking, I started making some of my clothes during weekends.
The first time I was able to make my own simple yet fashionable dress, it seemed unbelievable. The joy it brought was such that sewing has since become a fascinating hobby for me.
In time, my sewing repertoire expanded (especially after I got married) to include home frocks, pajamas, pants, etc. for family members. And like my mother, I found myself also making bed sheets, pillow cases, sofa covers, draperies and valances for the windows, and whatever house items that require linen materials.
When my only child Sarah (Rafa’s mom) went to kindergarten in an exclusive girls’ school, she refused to wear the ready-made school uniform. Uncomfortable with the fit, she pleaded that I make her school uniform.
From then on till she graduated from high school, I made her five sets of uniform each year on summer days before the opening of classes.
Sarah often said that the girls in her class wondered why the pleats of her uniform stayed neatly in place, not getting disarranged or crumpled when she stood up from the seat (even after she slumped or sat hastily), unlike theirs.
And she would let them in on a secret: “My mom makes my uniforms!”
Hearing this made me always thankful that I learned the right way to put enough allowance underneath the fold of each pleat, and did not scrimp on the material.
In addition, the costumes in some theatrical plays in Sarah’s school were fashioned with my tinkering with Stitch.
Many more wonderful things resulted from my partnership with Stitch that I can remember and watch in my mind’s picture gallery.
Stitch is the connection and the bridge to my youth. As long as I can still push the thread through the eye of its needle and press my foot firmly on its motor, I know our adventures together will continue.
I still feel the excitement and youthful joy when tackling cotton work with my Stitch buddy — ever loyal and ever ready to serve anytime I wish to accomplish something worthwhile. Who says one cannot feel young in one’s senior years?
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Thelma Lopez-Garcellano, retired from corporate work, turns 71 in July. She is a freelance writer, attends public seminars/lectures on varied interests, and loves reading and traveling with her family.
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