Until last year I had a whole cupboard full of fabric, bits of things from the sewing I used to do—couldn’t bear to part with any of it because, oh I don’t know, maybe my passion for making culottes and drapery would re-ignite at any moment?? Not likely. Apart from the occasional pillow slip (and then only if I happen to find really great fabric) I leave the sewing to my newest best friend, a tailor named Pam.
So it was easy letting it all go—everything, that is, but one bolt of white damask I’d salvaged when cleaning out my mother’s house a few years ago. She’d bought it when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was still living at home; I recall chatter (arguments?) between her and my dad about the price, the quality, was she nuts? It was the only time I remember her buying something non-essential. I knew from the start this wasn’t just fabric.

She made a round tablecloth for her kitchen table and, years later, when I had a place of my own, a small square one for me. Despite its supposed exquisiteness, I didn’t like it much… but what could I do? It was The Damask, the crown jewels of our family. I thanked her and dragged it around to every place I lived.

For her part, that was all she did with it. The rest, metres and metres, was kept tucked away for—as it turned out—ever. Price tag still in place ($47.50). Too precious to use. An act of insanity that I realize I’ve perpetuated. At least once a year I consider pitching it but have never been able to get past its mythology. Or maybe it was how hard she fought to defend her right to buy it. Those were the days when women had to defend such things.

In any case, this year I’m on a serious de-cluttering mission, which includes not only chucking the stuff that’s easy but the stuff that’s hard. 

The Damask must go.

Because it’s not just a bolt of fabric, it’s a nefarious force attracting other remnants—it’s already attracted a small collection of fabric ends from a vest I had Pam make for Peter this Christmas (scraps I’ve kept in case he burns a hole in it with a cigarette even though he doesn’t smoke and even though he has a closet full of clothes that have never been burned by any object, lit or otherwise).

Okay. The vest remnants I’ll pitch.

As for the other—

Last year my mother had a stroke and now sleeps 24 hours a day in a nursing home, in and out of dementia, past giving a flying fig about The Damask or anything else. Perfect time to get rid of it—who would care?

Oddly… me, as it turns out.

True, I don’t want it in its lifelong form: neatly folded and yellowing, an irritant being shuffled from one place to the next. Nor do I need another tablecloth. But my perpetually sleeping mother—well, it suddenly occurs to me that she could do with a crisp new duvet.

In a damask cover of exceptional quality.


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