The Fabric Shop

July 27, 2018 OTHER

pixabay photo

 

By

Amanda L. Pugh

 

 

A part of my childhood died today.

 

A lady I have known for much of my life passed away this morning, and with her, yet another piece of my past is now a part of the scrapbook of my mind.

 

I called her Granny Marie for years, even though she wasn’t my biological grandmother.

 

My mother tells the story of how she met her a few weeks into their new residency in Tennessee back in 1974…she and my father (and me, of course) had moved back to Tennessee from Georgia so that I could get to know my family and Mom had finally worked up the nerve to go explore their new geographical living area. She drove into the nearest town, Lexington, and parked on Main Street figuring that was as good a place as any to start looking around. There was a store on the corner that caught her eye – a fabric store. She loved sewing and crafting, so she zeroed right in on it – familiar territory, yay! Walking through the door with me in tow, the owner greeted her with a cheery “Hi! Come on in!”

 

The owner wasn’t behind the counter but…she was sitting on the steps to the second floor snapping green beans.

 

And so, began a long friendship.

 

Mom looked at Marie as a second mother, not only going to her for fabric and crafting advice, but for personal advice as well. I grew up exploring the fabric shop, fascinated with the seasonal window displays she would come up with, especially wondering how she would use familiar elements (such as the back to school display where she featured an antique desk that I loved) each year. For many years, anyone who was in the market for wedding veils would go to Marie and she would come up with unique and beautiful creations that would make New York designers weep with jealousy. If you needed to make a new outfit whether casual or formal, Marie was where you went. (This was when sewing at home was way more stylish and affordable).

 

Marie was more than a store owner, however-she was an icon in Lexington. She was always willing to purchase ad space in every school annual (that’s a big thing here in the South) and football program, and she never hesitated to do her civic duty. She loved to help people – she was a good woman that way.

 

As far as our family goes, she was always there for us. We shared our school triumphs with her, our good report cards, our personal joys and sorrows, and she was like another grandmother to me and my brother and sister. We would give her copies of school pictures and holiday cards, and when joy (like when my little brother was born) or tragedy (the death of my father) would come to us, Marie was there to help us get through it. The last family event we were able to share with her was the birth of my niece – she oohed and aaahed over her pictures and proclaimed her the most gorgeous baby ever. (We agreed.) The last time we saw her, she came over to our house with a gift for my niece from “Granny Marie”.

 

The last year or so of her life, she only got out on rare occasions, always with her husband of 70 years beside her.

 

The fabric shop is now an insurance office – she gave it up many years ago as her health began to decline. The building itself is on the historic register, so it’s not going anywhere, but Marie is gone. There is a giant hole in our town and our collective memories now, and those of us that had the privilege of knowing her will never forget her.

 

Everyone should be so favored to know a woman like Marie.

 

 

 

 

Amanda L. Pugh

Amanda Pugh is an adjunct professor of communications at Jackson State Community College in Jackson TN. She has been writing for as long as she can remember, both short stories and poetry, and it’s one her favorite things to do besides drink coffee and teach. Her work has appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Tennessee’s Best Emerging Poets, Our Jackson Home, Down in the Dirt, and Spilled Ink (the literary journal of Jackson State Community College).

Contact: alp2003tn@aol.com

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