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Richer than the Sum of My Skirt
By Birdie Jaworski
Monday, December 10, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
I ponder my torn skirt, my son, my lifetime of hesitant choices.
My favorite skirt ripped as my son, 11, helped me take the clothes off the twisted rope hanging across my backyard. It caught on the rough tin edge of the garden shed as I swung it from line to basket, tore an uneven aqua letter L across the right butt cheek.
"Mom! That's your favorite skirt!"
11 looked worried. He reached over, tried to pat the fraying L back into the fabric.
"What are you gonna do? Mom? Can you fix it? Can you buy a new one? You never buy new clothes."
I smiled, reached my arms to give 11 a hug. He smelled like the sun-baked clothes, like the ozone of our frequent monsoon afternoons, like new school pencils and little boy dirt. I realized with a start that he'd finally reached my height.
"Why would I want to buy a new skirt? I'd just look like everyone else! It's just a piece of fabric, honey. I can make a cool patch to go over the rip. Maybe you can help me design something fabulous!"
I stretched out the word fabulous like I was a flaming gay television designing evangelist, ready to preach the gospel of style. 11 laughed, struck a fashion icon's vogue pose, and pursed his lips in elegant thought. The setting sun caught the highlights in his dark hair, made him seem even taller than a moment ago, made him shine retro, handsome, like some old 40's photograph and I tried to grab it, grab the sun, his hair, his height, his lopsided smile like mine, tried to frame it forever in some sturdy neural pathway.
Oh, please, please, please. Always be this boy, always be this connected to me, to the dirt on our shoes.
I pretended to take his picture with my hands held in front of my eyes in an angled square. I didn't want him to see the tear forming in the corner of my left eye. A yellow swallowtail butterfly glided by, landed on our basket of laundry for just a second. Just a second.
Everything goes so fast. I want to slow time, slow that butterfly, slow all of this, my backyard, the rising grass, the bunnies growing fat and sleek in their cozy hutch.
As the sky grew dark my sons both drew fanciful designs of starships and planetoids, the perfect foils for an exposed rump. I chose one design from each, hauled out my old Singer and covered the rip with a red picnic-check UFO. I added a long-tailed silver comet to the other side of the skirt, turned and sewed, slowly, slowly, watched the needle dragonfly down in the ritual my gramma taught me three decades ago. I hemmed two pairs of school pants, darned a couple of socks, tucked the boys into bed, and called it a night.
We walked to school this morning, walked the mile-and-a-half, me in my fabulous new galactic aqua skirt, my boys in freshly hemmed khakis. The morning wind lifted my skirt in the ways I liked, let a bit of this thigh show, then the other. My cowboy boots stomped on the sidewalk. I could feel the cool air rise through the bottom of my right foot where I stepped on a rail spike. Torn skirt, holy boot, pants to let out, beans and rice, walk instead of drive, hanging clothes in the sun, I chanted a silent litany of all the ways I desperately saved pennies. So many years. So few pennies. A blackbird squawked as we crossed a street lined with scraggly cedars. He dropped a feather in our path, and we hovered near the storm cistern as the feather twisted in an expanding spiral toward our heads.
I made the right decision. I've been a stay at home mom all these years, gave up a lifetime of career, a lifetime of adult interaction, years of slightly better comfort, better clothes, nice things to own. It's hard, but I know it's right. Avon barely pays these damn bills. But look what you have, just look. Look.
I watched my boys run ahead, run into the rising sun. 11 stopped short, turned quick as he forgot something important at home. I braced myself for a run west.
11 ran to me. His backpack slapped against his shoulders one beat behind his feet.
"Yeah? Forget something, honey?"
"Yes! I did!"
11 held out his arms and tackled me in a bear hug.
"I forgot to tell you how cool your skirt looks."
Site: Birdie Jaworski Dot Com
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|Reviewed by Sandra Mushi
|How beautiful, Birdie! It is indeed true children are bundles of joy - whatever age they are.
Merry Christmas and God bless,
|Reviewed by Randall Barfield
|Nothing short of beautiful. Beautifully told and touching. Great ending, too! Thanks for visiting and letting me know. Cheers|