Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ironing a Record

I have this really faded memory. The kind that may have been a dream, may have actually happened, may have been seen on TV. It is of a record that was left in the sun in the back window of a car. And the thing got so hot that it melted into a wavy bubbly oval, like a tortilla cooking. When my Grandma Virginia wanted to do the impossible she would call it "ironing a record". Being a visual person, I always loved the mental picture of my Grandma in an apron with an ironing board and an old warped 45.

When I was living in the Avenues in Salt Lake one Sunday these women came in from another ward and did a little skit in Relief Society. One of them had THE highest stilettos I have ever seen at church. At some point the woman leaned over the table to pretend to answer the phone and her high heel caught in the crocheted table covering. I was frozen. She was inches away. Do I stand up and stop her and unloosen her heel and make them start the skit over? Does she know she's caught? And around the time I am processing, sure enough, her heel slices right through and tears a hole in it a foot long and wide. It is a handmade work of art. I am now sick to my stomach. She makes a surprised and horrified face before she sits down for the rest of the meeting. I can't think of anything else but this tablecloth.

At the end of the meeting I stay in my place waiting for all of the female traffic to sort of thin out. A woman comes over to the table to clear it off. She reverently picks up the tablecloth and folds it up, then turns right to me and says, "I don't even know how to fix this. Do you know someone that can fix this?" And I say, "I can," and hold out my arms. She sort of jumps back and then hands it to me. I am not sure why I said it, it was only a hunch I could do it, but I felt I could. So I take it home and get out a needle and thread. I pick up the torn strands, figure out where they connect in the pattern and then sew them up. When I was done, I could still tell where it had been torn. I was kind of sad so I put it down and walked away from it. (Something Grandma taught me...) The next day when I looked at it again I didn't know where the tear was anymore, I couldn't find it. I was marveled. What really are the odds the woman would turn and ask that question right to the person who could fix it? 1/60? What are the odds I would be sitting right there in that seat? 1/2,000? What are the odds I would even be in Salt Lake, or in that ward, on that day? 1/18,000,000,000,000?? great.

When people ask me what I do, I really have no answer. It depends on the shoot. 'Technically" I do make-up and props and wardrobe for commercials so my title usually reads, "Art Director" on the crew sheet. But really each shoot is a unique set of problems that I get to try and solve. Like a puzzle. Or a riddle. I used to work retail and the necklaces used to turn into a rat king in shipping sometimes and I was the only volunteer to untangle the messes. I loved it. Today it dawned on me, I am a record ironer. I had two illegitimate kids and was a dead broke single mom who was working three jobs and trying to go to school, now I am a happily employed happily married mother of two beautiful kids sealed to their Dad in the temple. I used to be a half a pack a day smoker with a loose grasp on the definition of integrity and now I'm a Relief Society Secretary. (For 1.75 GPA me, that is a big deal.) I used to live in homes of strangers and at the mercy of friends and move from place to place at least twice a year and now I am a homeowner thanks to the spirit that helped me find a silly house for a song in my great old neighborhood. And all of these things about me that I am making sound so awesome do not belong to me. Be clear about this, if I am awesome at any of these things, if I have a moment where I am an awesome Mom or a great cook or a compassionate listener, it is because of my Grandmother. Her genes and her influence and her testimony and her prayers. It's not mine to brag over, any of it. My good qualities, my happy life, my love of God, all belong to her. I love her. I cherish her. I will miss her.