Life on the ranch demanded creativity and resourcefulness from every member of the community.
Except for me.
I was four.
Oh, I was resourceful.
Just not in a productive way.
Moving on . . .
In this spirit of inventiveness, my Mom had taught herself to sew. And she was good at it.
From her hands and her trusty little machine emerged fantastic and wondrous articles of clothing. Dresses, blouses, skirts, shirts, trousers, all were created quickly and efficiently, with only a bit of cloth.
I know. I watched her.
I also watched her peel potatoes with equal economy, but that is another story.
And a very different outcome.
Ahem . . .
Occasionally, Mom's sewing machine would give her grief, but my Dad instructed me not to say those words.
They must have been sewing words.
Years later, I would use them as cow herding words, but I digress . . .
Mom could also fix things with her electric marvel.
The most hopeless wardrobe disasters could be quickly and perfectly repaired with ease and just a couple of strokes of the needle.
A couple of words, here, about the needles she used.
They were sharp.
My Dad had a work shirt.
He hated it. Something about the fit or the material.
One day, while fencing, he caught a fold of this shirt on some barbed wire and tore it.
Rather gleefully, he told Mom to just throw it into the rag bag.
But Mom was far too thrifty to do that.
This was a good, serviceable shirt, with plenty of years of work left in it.
She repaired it.
Dad sighed and wore it again.
We were branding.
Dad caught the shirt on the squeeze handle and, again, it tore.
Again, the advice to scrap it.
Again, the repairs.
Dad was working in the shop and caught the shirt on the work bench.
This was becoming a pattern.
But this time, he was determined to be rid of the hated, but indestructible shirt once and for all. He extended the tear into something . . . longer.
Then proceeded to rip the rest of the shirt apart.
He came into the sewing room, and delivered the scraps to my astonished Mom. “Rag bag,” he said.
Then he made the mistake of leaving the room.
Mom looked at the little pile of scraps and . . . smiled. Have I mentioned that Mom has a very good sense of humor?
I probably should have.
She removed whatever project she was currently sewing and started to work.
In a short time, she had reassembled the dreaded shirt.
Oh, it didn't look quite the same.
Frankenstein's monster comes to mind for some reason.
But it was, once more, complete.
She folded it carefully and put it in Dad's drawer.
She didn't have to wait for long. The next morning, Dad opened that drawer to get out a shirt and let out a little scream.
And no, it wasn't a girly scream.
He emerged, pale-faced, clutching the shirt. “It's back! It's haunting me!” he said.
Mom laughed and laughed.
We all did.
After that, the shirt finally made it to the rag bag.
It had finally served its purpose.