This isn’t about sewing techniques. At least not in the form I usually write about. And, it’s not new – it’s a revised version of a post I wrote in 2011. But, it is about sewing the stitches of our lives, using the fabrics we’re given and the impact that can make in the lives of others. It is a timelessly sewn story, I think you’ll enjoy.
A Memorial Day Thank You
I never knew my Uncle Raymond, but growing up with his old wooden record player is one of my warmest memories. Mom called it ‘Raymond’s little record player’ and she often shared stories of the times she had enjoyed with her ‘favorite’ brother.
I’m sure you don’t really have a favorite when there are 12 of you (8 boys, 4 girls), but there was a very special connection between Mom and Raymond. They often had long talks, shared their hopes and dreams and laughed about their struggles.
When WWll broke out, Raymond joined the Army and was eventually sent to Germany. He and Mom continued their talks by writing letters. Shorter now, due to time constraints, but they still shared hopes, dreams and, most significantly, Raymond’s fear that he would not make it back home.
I found those letters several years ago and read and re-read them with tears in my eyes as I ‘heard’ the brother-sister love and devotion they conveyed. Uncle Raymond talked about home, his family, asked for news about the folks and kept Mom updated on how things were going for him ‘over there’.
Then the letters took a turn. Battles grew more intense, Raymond grew closer to the front line and his own mortality became a daily reality.
In a post-Depression era family of 12 on a farm in Texas physical possessions were few, but Raymond had a record player he prized and had left with his older sister Bertha, my mom. She was to keep it until he returned and now, his letters lovingly told her that he wanted her to keep it if he did not return. I can imagine how very, very difficult that was for Mom to read. Her beloved brother was telling her that he did not think he would make it home. Somehow he knew what was soon to come.
And, so, I have this record player. It’s on a shelf in my sewing room and serves as a reminder of Mom, Uncle Raymond and the special relationship they shared. He did not make it home. At the age of 20, he died on a battlefield just a few days after his last letter in January of 1945. And his record player became Mom’s treasured reminder of her brother’s love and sacrifice.
We moved a lot when I was growing up and ‘Raymond’s little record player’ and it’s memories always found a special place to be displayed. No matter where we lived, it was part of what made a house our home.
I am grateful today for my Uncle Raymond, his sacrifice for his country and it’s future generations and the sacrifice of so many others like him. And I am grateful for that record player. It sits in my sewing room as a reminder of an uncle who sewed many life sustaining things into our world and his relationships. Even though I never knew him, I love him dearly and the mother who made sure I knew of his gift.
The lesson of sacrifice I learned through Mom’s stories of her brother gave me an understanding of the kind of life that matters. A life full of love that endures, love that sacrifices, love that gives and thinks of others. Uncle Raymond left us a tangible gift and representation of who he was and what he had to give. Much more than just a ‘little record player’, he gave us the hand-worked stitches and precious fabric of his life.
Happy Memorial Day. I hope you’ve enjoyed my story. And, I hope you will take time today to honor the sacrifices of those who have sewn stitches of selflessness and given all they had through their service. We owe the freedom fabric of our lives to those men and women and they deserve our honor.