Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rita's Apron Chronicle

Seeing this basket of aprons at the Grout Museum -- part of the Apron Chronicles exhibit -- brought back many memories.
This basket is overflowing with aprons. The sign encourages museum visitors to tie one on!!
Rita Farro's Apron Chronicle:

Aprons have long held a fascination for me. But I didn't become a serious collector until 1997, when my mother was dying of cancer. Hospice was coming to the house everyday, and we'd situated Mom's hospital bed in the living room. It was an overwhelming and sad time for our family. Every day was full of tears and pain and stress...

One day, I was walking around downtown Clinton, Iowa -- putting off going back for my shift with Mom. At a cramped antique mall, I found a basket of colorful gingham aprons. There were five of them -- $1 each -- all embroidered with chicken scratch designs.

Looking at those aprons, I was snapped back to growing up on a farm in McCausland, Iowa.  The year I was 12, Mom sewed Easter dresses for me and my four sisters. (Rita, Ronda, Debbie, Deena and Wendy). She made five red and white gingham dresses with big puffy sleeves. Our mother's mother -- Grandma Dodds -- did chicken scratch embroidery around the bottom of each dress.  In my mind's eye, I could see the five of us, marching down the center aisle of the Zion Lutheran Church on Easter morning...

I bought the aprons and took them to Mom's house. Although I always talked to her, at that point, she was asleep most of the time, and very non-responsive.  Sitting next to her bed, I held the aprons and started talking about my memories of those look-alike dresses she made 40 years ago...

When I got to the part where the five of us were marching down the aisle.....Mom whispered (without opening her eyes)..."Only yours was red, Rita."

I couldn't believe Mom was talking.  Stunned -- I leaned in and said, "What, Mom?"  after a pause, she said,   "Only your dress was red.  Ronda's was turquoise, Debbie's was yellow, Deena's was green and Wendy Ann's was pink."

That was an amazing moment.  First of all -- that Mom spoke at all was a shock.  For weeks, we couldn't understand the few words she did attempt.  I was equally as amazed that I remembered those dresses as all being red.  The minute Mom spoke, I knew she was right.  It was the first time I realized my child memories could be WRONG.

Of course -- the biggest thing about that moment was knowing Mom heard every word I said.

I looked down and really saw the five gingham aprons I was holding in my lap.  They were red, turquoise, yellow, green and pink...


  1. What a wonderful story - thank you. Leslie

  2. Oh my ... I think I have something in my eye. What a touching story. Snd yes it brought tears to my eyes. mInhave a med. blue and white check apron with chicken scratch at the bottom and on the pocket. It belonged to my Grandma who always wore aprons. Usually gingham, sometimes feedsack print. I get the apron out and wear it at Thanksgiving or other holiday meal which might be at my home. And make sure I use the 2 pieces of depression glass she gave me.