My Uncle Mike (really named James) served in the Korean War – my father’s only brother. (My father’s name is Tom Davies who served as a Merchant Marine during World War II).
He (my Uncle Mike) brought home from the war to his mother who sewed all her own clothes and the clothes of others, a silk parachute.
When I was born, she made from that silk parachute a christening gown with two roses on the neck/top/separate part of the upper bodice.
My mother gave that dress to me years later in memory of Grandma Davies after she died.
Years after that when I relocated where I couldn’t take a lot of stuff with me, a Jew offered me 100$ for all that I owned, the remains of me, everything of me and I accepted.
I was on my way out of somewhere to nowhere. I was young and scared and that’s how the government wants people of interest to feel. Still, it was all for me. An adventure.
After I went to the Soviet Union in 1975 or something like that, all hell broke loose in my life.
As I was leaving this beautiful gown to a man who didn’t deserve to own it, I held it, smelled it, touched it, drew my fingers over every stitch and fold.
He never saw me do it. I wonder what he eventually did with it.
But for me my birth was long over and I knew I would remember exactly as Grandma Davies sewed it, so I didn’t have to save it forever. I had it forever in the place that mattered.
You see, Grandma’s middle name was Rose. And she made out of the silk fabric the gown and then two roses on either side of me planted gently, firmly on my chest so nobody would ever forget, and she was imagining me lowering my head then raising it (as sewers do), till all was right with the roses and her. I can experience her now – the toughness and gentle part of all she did. Prominent but not overstated was her style – the style she designed, my Grandma Davies, for me.
Thank you Grandma Davies for inviting me to your thoughts.
I already knew them anyway. I’m yours, you know that.
Of course now that I understand the enslavement of silk worms, and why the world would want to enslave a beautiful being, I need, want and must say that slavery, no matter the beauty of the slaves and what they produce, is wrong.
For me and for Grandma and for Uncle Mike it was the parachute that saved lives and the christening gown that placed beauty where there was a war on the birthing of a child.
And the two roses that Grandma sewed was one for her and one for me and one for her own mother.
So there were three.
She wove it all.
She wove it, sewed it, felt it all. She wanted one day for me to feel it and I did, and now again I’m revisiting with a new appreciation.
Grandma wasn’t baptized till she was ten years old. A little old for a christening gown. It was done in the middle of a winter night after traversing ten miles with Grandma on her Auntie’s back through the back woods of somewhere in Lithuania. Her Auntie had her baptized so she could be transferred to America for a better life. There was no record of Grandma’s birth and she needed papers in order to be accepted in America.
Grandma never knew when her real birthday was. The date Auntie gave was something she made up. ‘Close enough’ Grandma always thought to say each year that we went to Grandma’s house to celebrate her birthday. Grandma would always throw her head back and laugh a knowing accepting kind of laugh as she squeezed her moist eyes together.
When she died, her daughter who was with her said she cried for her Mama as she passed.