My mother was sitting at her sewing machine as I walked into the kitchen. This was not an unusual site. She was a fabulous seamstress and could turn the simplest patterns into masterpieces.
“What are you making, Mom?” I inquired.
“Oh, I had some scraps of fabrics and thought I would make a few aprons. Mine are looking tired,” she replied as she stitched away.
My mother never entered the kitchen without wearing an apron. Neither did my grandmother, my great-grandmother and any grandmothers before that. Aprons were as important a staple as a fry pan.
Until the day she died, when I prepared a meal, my mother would ask, “Where is your apron?” She would then reach in my pantry, find an apron and tie one around my waist.
“Why take a chance you could ruin your clothes?” she would say. And, of course, I had no answer.
After Mom passed away I was going through her things. I found the drawer where the aprons lay neatly waiting to be touched again with those loving hands.
I picked them up one by one and looked at the detail. One had appliques she had handstitched along with cross stitched detail. One had patch worked fabrics and lace. All of them were wonderfully made and as precious as a $1,000 pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or a Prada bag.
Mimi is my friend who was getting ready to celebrate a birthday. There are a few of us that still buy each other a small gift when we turn a page on age. We like to make our birthdays a bit special, so Mimi, Jackie, Elizabeth and I went to lunch.
We drove to Mimi’s restaurant of choice, a French café in the heart of the ritzy Buckhead Shops of Atlanta. The café is surrounded by luxury hotels, fine dining, the stores of Prada, Gucci, and of course, Jimmy Choo shoes.
As we dined on the patio, we watched a parade of luxury cars, as well as luxuriously clad people of all ages pass by.
Mimi’s heritage is part French. She can even speak the language. She is a tiny thing with impeccable taste.
Reared in New England, schooled in the west and raised in all things proper. She became an executive for a major company out of college and retired from the same company. Mimi’s glass ceiling was broken before the rest of us understood what that even meant.
Her clothes are of the finest quality with an array of purses and jewelry that always coordinate. She was right at home sitting among the finest shops and the exquisite food of the French café.
As she reached to open her present from me, I wondered why in the world I would give her the gift that was in the black and white wrapped box.
I had gotten the old sewing machine out a few weeks prior and decided to make an apron or two. A lost art. Since Mimi had everything, I thought at the time, this would be something different and possibly something she did not own.
Yes, you can buy an apron for a song, but not the ones like my mama made or my grandmother, or the grandmother before that. No, “homemade” is the true apron. Don’t ask me why, but they work better.
I selected a French fabric with shades of roses, blacks and greens. I carefully applied trims, and gathered the skirt. I centered designs and cut it shorter for my petit friend. I pressed, folded and wrapped it in white tissue and placed it in the box.
Now, as I was sitting among the glitter of midtown Atlanta, I felt that possibly I had the wrong gift for Mimi. What was I thinking?!
After our delicious meal, Mimi opened her present. Her eyes lit up and she said she loved it. She held it up to look at it, smiled, and then put it in her large, beautiful purse.
After we ate, we started walking around to the various shops and window dreaming.
We turned the corner and Mimi walked right through the doors marked Jimmy Choo. We all followed. I stood in the center of this small shop and looked at all the elegantly displayed shoes on every glass shelf. My mouth was wide open.
The shoes were enticing me with their beauty. When I picked one up and saw the price I almost dropped it. However, I could clearly see why they were treasures to those who could afford them.
“I have a pair on and I love them!” Mimi said as if she were walking around in a pair of tennis shoes.
For the rest of the afternoon, I made a mindful promise to not step on Mimi’s Jimmy Choos!
As we started home, we decided to stop for a coffee at the Starbucks near our houses. You can run into a lot of people you know in this little shopping center.
Mimi was sitting in the back seat rummaging through her purse. She pulled out the apron.
“What are you doing?” I shockingly exclaimed as she stepped out of the car and tied on her apron.
“I want to see what it looks like on me!”
Truthfully, it looked adorable and fit perfectly.
“Well, I love it so much I am going to wear it!” she stated.
So, off went little Mimi in her Jimmy Choo wedges wearing her handmade apron though the shops near our homes with not a worry in the world. Proper was out the window.
Magnificent were the shoes, precious was the apron, beautiful was the birthday girl who abandoned all that was normal for her to joyously celebrate friendship.
With a twinkle in her eye, Mama would have proudly tied the French apron strings around Mimi’s waist while proclaiming, “Why take a chance of ruining those Jimmy Choo shoes?”
Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former LaGrange resident who currently resides in Roswell. She may be reached at [email protected]