I learned to sew in High School, Grade Eight.
The first thing I learned was the basting stitch, an easy up and down of needle and thread through two layers of sky blue gingham cloth that would eventually become an apron.
The basting stitch was simple. All it required was attention to keeping the stitches balanced in length so the layers of cloth held firmly to each other. The thread I used was a vivid red, deliberate contrast to the colour of the gingham. It was easy to see what had already been stitched, and what now needed my needle, thread, and attentive eyes.
I am thinking of my Dad, and how he taught me to find threads of joy and use them to stitch my days together.
It was my heart and all my senses he taught me to use, rather than needle and thread.
Every day, as I grew up, I stitched firm the colours of morning clouds and wild sunsets.
Every summer I stitched the feel of my bare feet on wet sand as the tide went out. I stitched the smell of thick earth under the trees when August afternoons were hottest and I found the deepest shade.
I stitched into my life the smooth, cold taste of chocolate ice cream for dessert after supper. Two round scoops each for me and my sister, one scoop for our brother who was much younger than us and still sat in the high chair next to Mom.
Every night I stitched the quiet sounds of my Mom and Dad talking in the kitchen after we three were in bed, stories read, blankets and teddy bears tucked around us, kisses on our cheeks.
Here in my life now, I stitch each day together against the grey grief that threatens to pull me apart. I stitch, with careful attention, the threads of joy my Dad taught me to find and choose. Vivid colours, lengths of joy and love sewn to balance sadness, to hold me firm.