13 August 2010

Daddy's Mended Jeans

This is a pair of my 84 year old father's blue jeans. He's a farmer, and all my life he's worn the same work uniform: leather boots, blue jeans, long-sleeved chambray shirt and straw hat. Since most all he's done his entire life is work, it was rare to see him dressed otherwise, although we do have a few photos to prove that he did!

When one spends a lifetime doing physical labor in cotton clothing, it takes a toll on the fibers. My 76 year old momma was an excellent seamstress before an atypical parkinson's type disorder robbed her of her ability to use her hands, and I remember her spending many an hour at the sewing machine repairing his shirts and jeans. If you look closely, you will see some of her handiwork on this pair. She put patches upon patches, and my frugal daddy loved them. Even now, he is often found in a pair of his old, patched jeans, and he rubs the patches with his big, gnarled hands, and tells me how proud he is of how well my momma could mend his pants so nicely. "She's a good woman, and she's been a wonderful wife," he says. He misses her so much,  and those patches are a little part of her that he can keep close to him.

When I was visiting my daddy recently, doing some homekeeping for him, I grabbed a stack of his old jeans and took some photographs. I needed to document my momma's loving handiwork. She left a stack of ready-to-be-mended jeans and cover-alls upon her sewing machine cabinet the day she left their home 5 1/2 years ago for a doctor's appointment in the city where I live, and she has not been back since. She was ill, hospitalized, and went from there to a long-term care facility near me. My only sibling lives in this area too, and we look after her. She misses daddy. Thankfully, both my parents are still pretty good mentally, though we see some gradual short-term memory losses. They call each other regularly, and both are looking forward to the day when we can finally take momma "home." When our home sells here, we will make those arrangements. Soon.

As I deal with my parents aging processes, I treasure the legacy they are leaving me more and more. I'm so grateful that my momma showed me how to mend blue jeans. I love the bedspreads she made me out of still-good part of daddy's jeans that were too worn to mend any more. I love that my parents taught me much about using up, wearing out, making do and doing without. I rebelled against living that way for a long time, but I've come full circle. I've learned waaay too many lessons the hard way. Thankfully, I've learned that I'd rather wear patched clothes that are paid for than new clothes purchased with a credit card. I'm going home to the country, and I'm eagerly embracing that once dreaded frugal way of life, for I've found that it is truly rich.

I'm married to a man who has the same frugal-country values as my parents. So it comes in handy that I know how to mend jeans and over-alls. It helps that I love to sew, and to create new things out of old. I hope to pass some of those skills on to the Little Princess as well. I think she's gonna need them. I have so many ideas and recycled denim projects going.....so I'll be sharing them here.

I think my momma and my daddy will be proud.....I'm finally getting it.
Makin' somethin' outta nuthin' is waaay more fun than struttin' feathers that you're still payin' interest on!!!

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