Monday, January 13, 2014

The Grandma In The Bronx

 My great great grandmother Alma was a seamstress. She was my maternal grandfather's grandmother and she lived to be almost one hundred. She was from South Carolina, she wore a wig and she was broad with a high pitched voice.  When I was seven, my grandparents and my uncle went to her apartment in the Bronx to clean it up as she was now  in a nursing home unable to care for herself.  Her apartment was dark, tenement like and like a lot of older women from the South, she had amassed a lot of stuff.  Out of everything in her apartment,  I remember laying my eyes on  a myriad of fabric and sewing supplies. After cleaning up, we brought the fabric  back to Brooklyn and I was allowed to play with some of it, as this was the late 1980s pre-Internet. I was  fascinated with the brocades and silks all attempting to create outfits for my dolls and possibly myself. I remember wrapping one of the fabrics around my head and channeling my inner Norma Desmond. It was my attempt at my own project runway, one of the earlier  projects that would feed the inner fashion beast I would later grow up to become.

 Fast forward twenty  years  and I can't sew. I may possibly be able to dart a hem if there is an emergency but that is me at the advanced stage. I have taken a few courses in college as well as after graduating where I dropped out. My mom bought me a sewing machine, my aunt bought me fabric and present day, a girl can't sew for her life. Both my grandmother and mother were excited for me to taking a class. Waxing philosophically on how   I would be able to make my own clothes, my mom reached when she said I would finally create that clothing line she's always dreamed for me. Even my dad was excited, the engineer that he is, I would be creating something with my hands.   When I took sewing the first time, my grandmother looked over my supplies list and told me not to buy any pinking sheers, she was going to give me Grandma Alma's. "These are very expensive, don't loose them." was her warning, and my grandfather possibly one of the most inquisitive men in the world, decided to inspect them and tell me not only about his mother and grandmother but also his great grandmother, a Black Seminole whom he described as having hair like a horse and a nose larger and sharper than his.  I failed miserably in the class, I lacked confidence, skill and precision but the one thing I remember is it linked my family, my passion, my memory and another hand me down came to me full circle from that visit in the Bronx.

My mom says love nothing more than man, meaning don't place your heart into material things but now with the passing of my older family members. Sometime, I wish there was some more history, a few more things to hear a few more stories. However, that's not the cycle of life, it would be better to start your own memories, collect your own things, pass them own and tell your own stories.Who would have known that day in the Bronx would fuel my career choice.

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