As I was preparing to decorate a table for the women's brunch, I looked at the items I had set out. My centerpiece was prepared and I had borrowed a friend's dishes. The silverware was ready. All I needed was some cloth napkins. I tried out my brown cloth napkins, but they just didn't look right. I glanced down and saw an old tablecloth I had pulled out. The colors in the tablecloth matched, but it was too stained to use as a tablecloth at an event like this.
Why had I kept this stained, used tablecloth? My husband and I used it consistently the first year and half we were married. We lived in a very small rental. The kitchen was tiny and the house "came with" a kitchen table because it was the only table that would fit in the little eating area. (The table was even smaller than a card table.) The table was not attractive, but the size was right. To compensate for the ugly table, we had two tablecloths we used on the table. This one was my favorite of those tablecloths.
As I looked fondly at this tablecloth, I realized that it wasn't doing much good being stored away due to sentimental value. I would never use it because of the stains, but I couldn't bring myself to throw it away due to all the fond memories I associated with it.
And then it hit me.
This tablecloth was the key to the cloth napkins I need for the brunch. I wouldn't use a stained tablecloth, but I would use slightly stained cloth napkins over and over again. I laid out the tablecloth, measured it, and began to cut it into 9 squares.
Then I pulled out my grandma's sewing machine and I was flooded with a new set of memories.
In my grandma's retirement days, she kept herself busy. One of her retirement hobbies was sewing and quilting. As she progressed in her quilting, she decided to buy herself a newer sewing machine. It wasn't anything fancy, but it would get the job done. I remember seeing quilts laid out in her living room and watching her work on them.
She hasn't been able to sew or quilt for many years now. First her arthritis made quilting nearly impossible. Today, her dementia has progressed to the point where I don't think she even remembers the sewing machine or her years spent quilting.
But I remember.
As I sat at the sewing machine, I smelled my grandma's perfume still lingering on the machine. I wished I could express to her how grateful I am to be able to use her sewing machine. While sewing, I fondly reminisced over our first couple of years of marriage. I am glad to have these new/old cloth napkins as mementos to keep and to use.
While setting the table for the women's brunch, I knew that the women wouldn't know that I made the cloth napkins the night before. They wouldn't know that the napkins were made out of a sentimental old tablecloth. They wouldn't know that I sewed them on my grandma's sewing machine.
But I knew.