My grandmother passed away this week. Rather than giving in to my selfish sorrow and lamenting that she is no longer with me, I’ve decided to remember her as she would wish: to remember the mischievous glint that often flickered in her eyes; to remember the acerbic humor that lay just beneath the veneer of proper lady-like behavior; to remember her limitless patience with me when she taught me how to use a needle and thread.

When I first moved to Philadelphia nine years ago, I really wanted to learn how to sew. I’m not exactly a crafty person, but my grandmother was such a gifted seamstress that I felt certain some of her talent must be latent in my genes. She was too diplomatic to ever tell me otherwise, but the gales of laughter she tried to suppress when I managed to stitch my own thumb to the fabric was definitely an indication. In my defence, she was teaching me on my great-grandmother’s vintage Singer sewing machine (the very first electric model, just a step beyond the ones powered by foot pedal). It was temperamental and I was not very talented, but I loved the time we spent together at her kitchen table, laughing at the (not very impressive) fruits of my labor. Most of all, I loved the wooden spools of thread in her sewing basket: a rainbow of worn wood and colorful cotton that, when I look at them, remind me of all the dresses she made for me, for my mother, and for herself when she was just a girl. When I think of it, families are bit like my grandmother’s sewing basket: a jumble of different colors, shapes, and sizes, all linked together by one common thread…love.