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Winter Prosapio "Curls" and Dennis Peterson "Mother's Crafting Hands"

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
May 10, 2024 3:06 am

Winter Prosapio "Curls" and Dennis Peterson "Mother's Crafting Hands"

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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May 10, 2024 3:06 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Dennis Peterson of South Carolina shares the story of his crafty mother, and Winter Prosapio of Texas shares a story about motherhood.

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Connecting changes everything. And we return to Our American Stories Mother's Day special. Up next, two stories. The first one you'll hear is from Dennis Peterson, an author from South Carolina, and the second you'll hear is from Texas humor columnist Winter Presapio on motherhood. Here's Dennis with his story on his crafty mother. Growing up in the 50s and 60s in the farmlands north of Knoxville, Tennessee, I quickly discovered that my parents were penny pinchers. My father's income as a brick mason was often dependent on the weather and rearing three children required thrift. Part of their thrift involved my mother's sewing many of her own and my sister's clothes, making quilts, and crafting various items to supplement the family income.

Although as a boy, I never got hands-on experience with any of those activities, I witnessed them firsthand. I frequented many cloth shops with mother and was familiar with McCall's buttering and simplicity patterns. Only once do I recall mothers creating something that did not look good. During the late 60s when plaids were the rage, she decided that she would sew my father a sport coat. She found an appropriate pattern and selected a nice gray and brown plaid material. Then she worried with that thing more than with any other garment she'd ever attempted, trying to get all of the lines and checks to match at the seams. Several times she resorted to a seam ripper and started all over. Finally satisfied with it, she repeatedly pressed the collar and the lapels to give them a sharp crease and make them lie flat.

It didn't work. Although thoroughly dissatisfied with the result, she showed it to my father. He tried it on, stood in front of the full-length mirror examining it, and then declared it a fine-looking sport coat. Mother knew that it wasn't.

I could tell that it wasn't. And deep inside I think that daddy, who knew men's clothing and wore Hart Schaffner and Mark's suits, knew that the plaid sport coat did not meet the standard. But daddy, always sensitive to mother's feelings, never said anything but good things about that hideous sport coat.

And he wore it often. Mother never attempted another one. Mother also enjoyed quilting. Whenever I saw daddy collapsing the dining room table and pushing it into the living room, I knew that he was about to set up the quilting frame and mother was going to have a quilting bee. She invited her mother and sisters and some of her old high school girlfriends to our home to help her. They sat around the frame and quilted and talked and sipped tea or coffee all day long. After everyone left and our family finished supper, mother gave my father a guided tour around the frame pointing out what each person had done. She could tell who had done each section by the size, shape, and tightness of the stitching. Almost a perfectionist, she sometimes sat late into the evening redoing some of the work that didn't meet her standard. Later in life, mother became quite skilled at making many different macrame items from coin purses and wreath-shaped blouse pins to Christmas tree ornaments and plant hangers which she sold at craft shows.

The empty bedrooms in the old home place became warehouse space for all different shapes, sizes, and colors of macrame cordage. My wife and I still have some of the red and white macrame candy canes that she made and gave us to hang on our Christmas tree. Sometimes mother's fingers hurt from hours spent on her handiwork, but her labors gave her the personal satisfaction of having made something of beauty and utility for someone else. Her efforts helped clothe her and my sister and even my father and saved money. If she made a little money from some of her efforts, that was good too. And a special thanks to Dennis Peterson for that story. And now we turn to Winter Persapio's story.

Winter is an author from Texas and today she brings us a motherhood moment. Here's her story entitled, Curls. It takes a full 20 minutes to comb through her curls. I sedate the riot of hair with handfuls of slick conditioner and sit just outside the tub on her yellow footstool.

Comb me through the long black strands that spring back into ringlets after every pull. I never imagined I'd have patience for this before I had children. When I think back to my life before my daughters arrived, I can't remember doing anything quite so methodical as mothering. Nothing has ever been as demanding of skills I didn't possess.

I've never faced so many moments when I was at the end of my rope where I was driven to shouting at another human being, at my own child, only to apologize later much too late, much too little. The comb catches in the thick nest of twists and turns and I pull her hair slightly. She rarely protests when this happens. Genetics must tie the curly hair gene with the tough scalp one.

This genetic combination did not include the gene that extends graciousness with curious strangers, however. Her naturally curly hair draws compliments everywhere she goes. Strangers come up to her with hands extended trying to touch the spirals framing her tiny face and black eyes. Only a few get away with it.

Most times she warns them off with a staunch, no touch, her arms crisscrossing her head in a protective shield. Still, strangers reach for the curls in restaurants, on sidewalks, in doctor's offices. I'm lucky. I can touch them every day.

We sit in the quiet bathroom. She's focused on her floating toys. I am untangling, smoothing. I've become such a different person since I had children. I've become quieter, more careful, more aware of small moments. I'm acutely aware of the chasm between my friends who don't have children and my friends who do. I've leaped the canyon, never sensing the moment my feet were in the air, only a few closest friends jumping with us as honorary aunts and uncles. Now I understand why I never saw people once they had their children, why they stopped calling, how they disappeared into thin air. I recognize the way the strange wild space grew between us with every step their children took, toward solids, toward school, toward adolescence, toward leaving, toward never really being gone.

Across the vast chasm I see my childless friends moving on quickly as I sit here, still sit here, time turning in on itself so I can see both ends of it, beginnings and endings, all wrapping around my fingers. I risk a higher starting point on her head thinking I've worked out most of the knots, but it's no good. I'm back to the thick tangle, prying the teeth of the comb with it. She turns, looking for something. The cloth has slipped back in the tub. I hand it to her wordlessly.

She takes it without a glance and returns to her cups that need filling. My father, a veteran of many wives, always said he would never marry a woman who hadn't had children. They are too selfish, he said. And I wondered, as a single woman in those days, how selfish I was.

When he married a woman with three young daughters, my stepsisters, I wondered if he would be able to share her with them. I leaned back for a moment, feeling the dull burn in my back and clean the comb out, the fine black hair slick with the conditioner but still twisting, coats my fingers as I brush them off onto a paper towel. Stretched out, a single curl is long enough to reach her waist, yet it will bounce back to her shoulder when it's dry.

I've never had her hair cut, nervous that the metal will somehow break the bonds of this miracle flowing from her crown. Before they were born, I never really noticed children before. Now when I meet them, as I'm out on my own, in an office when someone brings her son, in the store when four-year-olds bounce into my path, I stop purposely. I kneel before them, look into their eyes and say hello.

They smile, usually, recognizing some universal quality I've gained, or maybe I just look silly, crouching like a frog. All the tangles are out and I take great pleasure in running the comb through her hair again and again, separating strands into perfect spirals. She looks up at me, all done? No, never.

Yes, baby, all done. And what a beautiful piece of writing. She didn't know or see children before she had her own. She talked about that chasm between, well, people who have kids and people who don't, and what a chasm it is. Winter Presapio's story about herself, her motherhood moments, the most precious moments, and her own, in the end, growth in patience and love.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-10 04:52:09 / 2024-05-10 04:57:19 / 5

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