Sorting through generations of “stuff”, I added one of Grandma’s old workday aprons to my “keep” pile. Aprons were daily wear for both of my grandmothers, as were the dresses they protected. They had many practical aprons, dressy ones for holidays or serving company. My mom wore an apron once a week, serving roast while protecting her Sunday-best dress. My daughter occasionally wears one, because they’re cute as well as practical and seem to have comeback into popularity. It is my 60’s/70’s jean and t-shirt wearing generation that shunned using them. But I will keep Grandma’s apron along with the memory of her rolling out homemade noodles and pie crusts amidst a cloud of flour.
And because of a story I heard at a family reunion.
Some of my family lived in Kansas during the dust bowl years, enduring one difficulty after another. One summer a mini-plague of grasshoppers swarmed the area, eating what little garden they had managed to grow. As the story goes, my great-grandmother was hanging laundry on the clothesline when the cloud of grasshoppers arrived, quickly covering everything in the yard, including her. To quote the family history, “and the hoppers gobbled every green thing, including the green strings off the apron tied around grandma’s waist”. I love the picture that sentence paints, and the hard-working, apron-wearing women I remember.
We spread Dad’s tie collection on the bed and each picked one to take home. He had worn a tie to work for over thirty years as a teacher/school counselor. We laughed at the variety of styles from super skinny to Bozo-wide. Some of the ugliest may have been gifts from us, seen as cool that particular Christmas or Father’s Day. It didn’t look like he had gotten rid of any of them over the years.
I picked one that looked like “Dad” to me. I’m not sure how the others made their choice, or if anyone kept the golf tie, or the hand-painted one from Hawaii. The one he was buried in had blue-gray stripes to match his gray jacket. It looked like him.
They came to get me because she was crying. I was a third grader and my sister had just started Kindergarten. She was crying because she had wet her pants while someone else was in the only bathroom available. Embarrassed because she didn’t usually have accidents, she was afraid she’d be labeled a “baby” in her class. I was embarrassed because my sister had an accident (that baby) and because somehow the school had identified me with her! Plus she could really cry once she got going… I doubt I was much comfort to her while we waited together for Mom to come with dry clothes.
We managed to be a comfort to each other more often than an embarrassment as years went by. We live and work in the same community (by choice!) 800 miles from our childhood home. People here have only known us as adults and struggle to tell us apart. We both have worked with children and are often mistakenly greeted by the others’ name. Long tied to one another in this way, we just say hello and receive the hug from an unknown child on our sister’s behalf without correcting their mistake.