The differences were many between my grandma and my mother. Grandma Elsie was much more of a Ben Franklin to my mother’s Woolworth’s. Grandma Elsie was penny candy and Crazy Days! Grab bags and colorful aisles. Rules were loose and chance abundant. As a young girl, this was delicious, this fluorescent lit certainty — but not for every day.
Perhaps it wasn’t as flashy, but I loved a Saturday morning at Woolworth’s with my mother. We went just as it opened. While most of my schoolmates rested on elbows before the television, fueling themselves with cartoons and Captain Crunch, I sat at the table in the back of Woolworth’s, thumbing through the Butterick sewing patterns. The ladies pictured on the front of the patterns were so glamorous. They not only showed you what the dress would look like, but what they would do while wearing it.
My mother loved to sew. And she was good at it. Time didn’t allow her to pay a great deal of attention. Most of our Saturday mornings were spent at the laundromat, or the grocery store. But on those occasions when she placed the dream above the duty, we sat for hours inventing the lives we would live in pure Butterick style.
I didn’t know for years that you could actually buy the patterns. I thought it was more of a library. They were expensive. So we pocketed the ideas. The dreams. And mostly, the time together.
I can easily and often be overcome with Ben Franklin brain. The fast paced, bright colored, crazy day, sugariness of it all. It’s then my heart sits me down. Slowly. And says, let’s not be so sure for a while. Let’s just sit here and thumb through the dream a bit. It’s in this peaceful uncertainty that I can feel it — my mother’s lotioned hand, grasping mine. The glorious time slows to a Butterick pace. And I just breathe. In perfect pattern.
“Not all of her dreams came true, but she was never sorry she had them.”