PERSONAL ESSAY: My Grandmother’s Scissors

By Tabitha Evans Moore | EDITOR & PUBLISHER

I wish more things worked like my grandmother’s fabric scissors. They are dependable, sturdy, and consistent. They’re solid and so shiny that they seem almost holy. They effortlessly do the job, and never once have they snagged. They feel heavy and substantial in my hands.

They’re chrome Gingher shears and they’ve been in our family for close to 40 years. I feel certain some traveling salesman sold them to her. They were handmade in Italy and I know they’ve been sharpened at least once.

My grandmother lived as an amazing seamstress. Her signature country-chic ruffled curtains once hung in half the houses of Moore County. She could sew curtains and pillows. She made clothes. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around her turning a pile of fabric and yarn into a doll that looked just like me. She’d even make us matching outfits.

My Halloween witch costumes were always the best because unlike the other girls I didn’t need to adventure around Lynchburg wearing the plastic, tie-in-back dress that came with the plastic mask. Oh no, I got a fitted, tailored-to-me ensemble with long flowing sleeves, and proper belt.

Around February of each year, I can remember going to Sirs Fabric in Fayetteville to look at the Easter dress patterns with her. I could pick out anything I wanted — nothing was beyond her abilities. I even got to pick out my own fabric. By the time that Sunday rolled around, I possessed a frock 10 times as fine as any of those sold at the local Caster Knott in Tullahoma. My favorite part was heading to Clayton’s for the matching shoes and sometimes even a wide-brimmed hat.

As a young adult, when I found the perfect pair of pants that were just a smidge too long, I never hesitated to buy them because I knew, for her, it was an easy fix. I got spoiled that way. Luckily, after my grandmother passed, I discovered another equally talented seamstress, Miss Norma Stone, who does those jobs for me. But it’s not the same.

Now that she’s gone, I guard those scissors like a precious gem — as if scissors only get so many cuts and they’re all mine. I once walked in to find my nephew cutting plastic with my grandmother’s fabric scissors and I nearly died.

“Do you want to get haunted,” I jokingly asked him. “Because that’s how you get haunted.”

If I hold them in my hand and close my eyes, I can almost see her in the sewing workshop my grandfather built for her at their Lois home. Layers of joy and purpose roll off her as she’d cut one big piece of fabric into smaller pieces and then sew them back together to create something special. She worked with purpose in that space … always joyful.

It never appealed to me but my sister — who probably should have been a fashion designer — used to light up when Grandmother would hand her a stack of fabric scraps and challenge her to turn them into something. Amy got to use the sewing machine. Me, not so much. Grandmother knew my limits.

I hoard my grandmother’s scissors like gold coins or good whiskey. I keep a watchful eye on them. They maintain the same honored space as my painting of my Mema Moore’s Edde Bend childhood home or my first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. They’re precious and rare.

I run a digital newspaper and spend much of my time online. It’s not a bad gig. But as I scroll through click bait and carefully curated social media pages, I long for the analog authenticity of my grandmother’s scissors. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}

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