Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Pinking Shears

About one hundred years ago, there was a little girl who was very sad. Her mother died before her her fifth birthday and her father and much older brothers were violent and cruel. She spent most of her life cooking, cleaning and cowering from them. One day without warning, her father brought home a new stepmother. She was older than her father and a woman of independent means. She did not let anyone beat her or her new stepdaughter.

Although the worst of the violence stopped, the little girl was still treated badly by the men and longed to escape. As her graduation date came closer, she dreaded it knowing that she would no longer have a safe place outside of the house. Her stepmother ignored the wishes of the girl's father and arranged for her to attend secretarial school in another town. She told the little girl that no one is helpless if they have the right tools.

The girl took her training to a large city where she enjoyed a successful career. When she was in her thirties she met a good man and decided to marry. She told her stepmother that she did not think she would be a good a wife because she did not know what she would do with herself at home all day while her friends were at work. Her stepmother told her that her hands and her mind would never need to be idle if she had a giving heart and the right tools. She gave her a sewing machine and taught her how to make everything from slips to slipcovers for her home and for charity.

Some years later, the girl adopted a baby. Her stepmother asked her if she needed any help or advice. The girl told her that she thought she would be able to muddle through. "After all", she said, "you are the one who gave me the right tools to raise her".

The years passed. The mean father and brothers died and drifted away. The stepmother and her stepdaughter remained close and visited often. The stepdaughter's baby grew up and adored her grandma. When the stepmother passed, her sewing kit came down to her stepdaughter who used it daily. When the stepdaughter passed, bits of the sewing kit came down to her daughter. Now that she no longer sews, some odd bits and a pair of pinking shears have come down to the original owner's great grand daughter and namesake.

Yesterday I took my great grandmother's pinking shears to the man who sharpens scissors. When he was done, he kept saying, "These are very special scissors, most unusual." I certainly agree.