Grandma’s Apron


© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour


Alexis turned onto the walkway that led up to her grandma’s house. She opened the front door. The hinges creaked with age. “Grandma!” 

            The furniture looked unusually dusty. 

            “In the kitchen dear.”

            Her grandma was sitting in an old rocker by her stove. There was a chair beside her. “Sit down dear, I have something for you. Would you mind pouring me a cup of tea first, though––get yourself a drink too.”

            Drinks in hand and back in the chair, Alexis asked, “What’s up, Grandma?”

            Her grandma placed a package on Alexis’ lap. “Open it, love.”

            Alexis opened the package and felt a twinge of disappointment when all she saw was her grandma’s tattered old apron. The elderly woman sensed her granddaughter’s disappointment.

            “That apron belonged to my mother.”

            “Even worse than I imagined,” Alexis thought.

            “It will be easier to tell its story if you put it on dear.”

            Alexis humoured her grandmother. The story began the moment she tied the bow…

“My mother made this apron from a piece of cotton her mother gave her.   She was told an apron would be one of her most valuable tools in life. Oh, I am sure my mother might have laughed, inside, as did I when it was passed to me, and as did your mother when I passed it to her. Unfortunately, with your mother’s untimely passing, this legacy has been returned to me to pass on to you.

“Now, for the story … listen carefully, because one day you will pass this on to your child. The original fabric was bright red––hard to see now because of all the patches––but, there is a story for every patch, as well.

“See this blue tear drop shaped one in the corner … that’s the one that was used to dry my mother’s tears, mine and your mother’s. Touch it, see if you can feel the tears in the cloth.”

Alexis was surprised, the patch felt damp.

“Even dried a few of your tears, dear.”

Alexis remembered.

“See this patch … this was from my mother’s Sunday go-to-meeting dress.  It covered a hole where the material burned through when mother was taking a hot pot from the oven in the wood cook stove. I remember the terrible burn on her hand too.”

Grandma sipped her tea. “In the early mornings, we’d go out to the chicken coop; mother would hold the apron; I’d gather, and then set the eggs in it.   Sometimes, we would have to bundle the hatchlings up in the apron on an extremely cold winter day, before taking them up to the house so that they wouldn’t freeze.”

Grandma began to ramble…

“In the summer, when the men were in the fields, mother would ring the dinner bell and then wave her apron so they would know she was calling them for a meal, not an emergency … see this patch … it is from an old pair of curtains that used to hang in our sitting room. A piece of kindling ripped a hole there … your mother was so shy she used to hide behind my apron whenever we had company … I used to play peek-a-boo with you––you liked this patch the best.”

Grandma pointed to a piece of white material with red polka-dots. “That was one of your mother’s Sunday dresses. It covers a hole from a downward pointing squash stem…

“See this one,” grandma pointed to the opposite corner from the teardrop patch. “My mother used this one to wipe her brow; one side for sweat and one side for tears, she would say.”

Grandma finished her cup of tea. The cup rattled as she set it on the saucer. Alexis noticed the pain flirt through the old eyes. “Your grandpa was always surprising me with unexpected company. It was a Saturday night, and the house was a mess after a busy week of canning, and he gave me only a half hour notice that he was bringing his boss home for supper. Besides cooking extra food, I gave the furniture a good dusting with the apron. See this piece––it was from grandpa’s favourite shirt––I used that to hide the tear I put in the apron when it got caught on a nail on the side of the buffet as I was dusting that day.”

Alexis learned how her mother used to pick fruit and carry them in grandma’s apron … she learned how grandma used to wrap her mom up in the warm apron when she came in from school on cold, rainy days … she learned how, one day, a hired hand had ridden one of her great-grandfather’s horses too hard and the apron had been used to rub the horse down … she learned, most of all, that this apron was a valuable piece of her family history.

Grandma sat back in her rocker. Her eyes closed.

“Grandma, before I leave, would you like me to help you up to bed?”

“No child, I just want to sit a bit longer.”

As Alexis walked home, her tears began to pour. She lifted the teardrop patch to her eyes, and so began the stories of the next generation.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. E.A. Rogall
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 14:20:10

    Lovely story for young and old, with multi-faceted ingredients; extremely well written.


  2. marycushniemansour
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 23:52:18

    Thank you … it is always good for a writer to have such a positive feedback on their work.


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