I can hear the rain on the window and I am comforted by the sound. It is raining as it only can in Oklahoma, unrelenting and fierce, and I am reminded of a time when I was a child. We are sitting in Mom’s small sewing room, and can only hear a distant rumble of thunder. My mother is anxious to teach me to sew and our lesson that day, a rare rainy afternoon, is the slip stitch. My hands always feel so clumsy and unskilled, but she shows me how the stitch is done. She tells me to listen to the rain, to hear the rhythm and pattern of the drops as they fall, to concentrate on the music they create, instead of the perfection I long for. My mother’s small hands fly at the hem of a skirt, while I struggle to make my stitches exactly the same, rhythmic. But I am slow; I plod along. I am unable to hear the music of the rain and focus instead on the burden of not going back once the eye of the needle passes through the hole in the cloth, no undoing. Along the way, I realize I will never sew like my mother but I must always try to do my best. She looks at my work and says it is beautiful, like me.
The comfort of the rain also stems from a time when there was a storm that had been long coming. The very smell of it, washing over my body as I stood outside, eyes closed, head back, mouth open, with arms wide and welcoming. Later, in dry times, that memory sustained me. If rain never fell again, I would still have that image in my head and when I opened my eyes that day, it was Georgie I saw, smiling at me as my little dress clung in damp waves. My curly hair was wild and wet and George’s hand as he sought mine, held a dry warmth, like an island in the middle of a sea. We ran and splashed and yelled. The rain was a gift to the dry, thirsty land, to everything that grows, seedlings, animals, and to Georgie and me.
I never did sew like my mother. When she was still a young woman, she had made, on a plaster plate, an image of her small hand with the help of a traveling purveyor. I hung this precious plate in my bedroom after she died. On bad days, when I felt low or just needed her near, I would place my hand over that image and feel her closeness again. When my beloved Cluney died, placing my hand over that impression comforted me, and I asked Mom to take Cluney under her wing; that I was sending her good friend back to her. I held Mom’s hand again when they found the cancer in me, and told her I would be by shortly.
The sound of rain is a comfort and in my travels ahead, the memory of it will sustain me.