I grew up watching my mother make clothes so I developed a passion for sewing at a young age. Mother taught me to use needle and thread to repair fabric, hold it together and give it form…all with stitches put in just the right places. Fun, pretty things were waiting to be made by the hands that wielded needle and thread.

Little did I know that there were other uses for these tools.

When I was four, my mother had surgery to remove her thyroid gland. I had no idea what thyroid was or what the word surgery meant. All I knew was that Mother wasn’t able to take us to Vacation Bible School so Debbie and I rode with the Farringtons.

When class was over the first day, we all ran to the car. Lenny Farrington jumped in, then Billy and Bruce, and then my sister. I was bringing up the rear since I was younger and slower, but I planned to jump in like the rest. I aimed myself at the open car door, put my head down and took off. Unfortunately, the other children closed the door before I reached it.

When I came to, I was in an unfamiliar car, lying in the lap of a vaguely familiar lady, with an ice pack on my head. Nothing looked or felt right; I was confused. Then I saw I was covered in blood and started crying while the lady continued to hold the blood-soaked pack on my face.

It was the worst car ride of my life.

At the hospital, the doctor looked at my forehead and wiped it with something that burned like the pot on the stove I wasn’t supposed to touch, while nurses—and it took many of them–held me still. I fought hard, but couldn’t get away. Then I saw the doctor holding a small, bent needle with black thread attached. I wondered what he was doing until he stuck the needle into my skin. It was awful, especially when he pulled the thread tight.

This doctor was not going on my friend list.

When he finished and the nurses released me, I carefully touched my head and discovered (GASP!) that the thread was attached to me! It was in my skin! No, no, no! That’s not what thread was for! The nurse explained that the doctor had put stitches in my skin to stop the bleeding and to help the tear in my skin grow back together. But it hurt! I wished my mother were there to fuss at the doctor.

Oh, how I wanted my mother. I felt alone without her.

When I was released from the hospital, the church ladies took me home. And Mother was there! Mother was home! I could not have been happier. She seemed a little weak, not up and doing as usual, but she hugged me, which made me feel better. I told her how the doctor sewed thread into my skin. How could he do that? I asked. Then I noticed she was wearing what looked like a thick black necklace, but no! It wasn’t a necklace! She had stitches, too, like me. Lots of them, from one side of her neck, around the front, to the other side. Too many to count. (That’s what thyroid surgery looked like in the fifties.) Mother counted three on my head. Only three. Her booboo was a lot bigger than mine, I realized.

I tried to imagine what would have happened if the doctor hadn’t stitched Mother’s neck. Her head may have fallen off! A mother without a head? No, no, no! That would have been the most horrible thing ever!

I realized, then, that stitches did more than create pretty dresses or doll clothes.

There’s an adage that says a stitch in time saves nine. I think stitches did more than that. They saved my mother’s life, and for that I am thankful.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *