Not only did my mother hold me accountable for bad behavior, she also kept me on my toes when it came to saying please and thank you.
It was August 1976, when my Aunt and Uncle in Toronto had invited us to their home for a small family reunion. We were celebrating my Grandparents arrival in Canada for a visit.
Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Brothers, Sisters, Mothers and Fathers went to Toronto airport to pick up my grandparents as they arrived from Germany.
After returning back to my Aunt and Uncle’s beautiful home, we had a lovely dinner.
After dinner time we shared a wonderful and rare night together as a family.
At the end of the evening Mother and I were designated to share a room in the downstairs den.
After getting undressed for bedtime, I laid my jeans across the foot of the bed.
I was very proud of those jeans.
They were purchased six months earlier and it had taken me about six months to get them perfectly faded, with about an inch of cascading white fringe along the bottoms of the legs. One leg had worn away to the extent that you could play peekaboo with my knee, and there was the obligatory smiley face patch to one side of the butt.
When I had originally bought them they were dark blue, stiff, and free from any defects.
They were painful to wear because during the 1970’s, no one wanted to be seen in a brand-new pair of jeans.
It had taken a lot of scrubbing’s and wearing and scorching with the iron to get them to that just right stage.
The next morning, when I got up, I reached for my jeans where I had left them at the end of the bed…
…but they weren’t there.
Had they fallen to the floor?
Checking around the bed I saw that no, they weren’t on the floor.
Mother, then caught my attention as she pointed to a chair by the window.
There they hung neatly folded.
Strange, I thought…
How did they get over there?
As I started putting them on I noticed that there was something odd about the jeans. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Then, as I was putting on my running shoes I realized that there was something very wrong.
These weren’t my jeans.
But they were.
The fringes were gone. In their place was an neatly stitched hem.
The peekaboo hole in my knee had been elegantly woven back together.
My smiley face patch was gone.
As I looked to Mother in search of an answer of what had happened to my jeans it suddenly struck me:
Now, I need to explain to you that when my Grandfather was very young and before he became a minister, he had been apprenticed to be a tailor.
Sewing had become second nature to him.
He really enjoyed sewing.
Whenever he visited, and while having quiet time, he would always ask if there was any sewing that needed to be done. He liked to keep busy.
And there was always some sewing that needed to be done.
Well, Mother gave me the look, which told me that I was to put on the jeans and try to be grateful for my Grandfather’s efforts because after all…
He did mean well.
As we walked into the dining room for breakfast we found everyone was already at the table.
My Grandfather, sitting at the head of the table beamed with pride when he saw that I was wearing the freshly mended jeans.
Mother and I sat down in our seats, and as we waited for the room to silence before saying grace she leaned over towards me and whispered in my ear:
“Remember what you’re suppose to say…”
It took strength, love, humility, reverence and tremendous acting ability to smile at my Grandfather and say:
“Thank you very much for fixing my jeans. They look wonderful….”
In return, my Grandfather lovingly smiled back at me.
He was so proud…
So obviously proud…
That during the days, weeks and months ahead, whenever I wore those jeans…
I couldn’t help but smile at the memory.
I’m still smiling.