The past three years had been a trying time for Mary, as anyone who had lost the love of their life after 66 years of marriage could attest to. No one would have imagined that Harold, who had been through so much in his 87 years of existence, would be run over by the 3:30pm bus as it made its way downtown on an otherwise pleasant spring day. Unfortunately neither did Harold.
It’s not that Mary was completely alone. Family members in the area would stop by every now and then to drop off groceries or check on the house, but mostly to make sure that she hadn’t gone crazy and started collecting cats. Mary’s next door neighbour Brenda would stop by once a week with a care package, sometimes a small casserole but more often than not a sweet snack. While Mary appreciated the gestures there was still something vital missing from her life. And so, one day she took things into her own hands, quite literally.
It had rained without interruption for the previous three days, but Mary awoke that early summer morning to the warmth of the sun on her face and the sound of Sparrows chattering in the distance. She sat up in bed, shielding her eyes against the light, and somehow knew that it was going to be a special day. After breakfast which consisted of a cup of black coffee and a piece of toast, she decided to tidy the house.
Mary slid open the window above the kitchen sink and then grabbed a feather duster from the cupboard below. She shuffled into the living room, dusted her small collection of Blue Mountain Pottery figurines, and then the cluster of family photos hanging on the south wall. Mary gave only brief glances to the faces from the past as the ostrich feathers wiped clean their wood framed enclosures. She paused at one though, brought her frail fingers to her lips, and then held them against the glass. Beneath her affectionate touch was Harold, standing tall in his Khaki Battle Dress a short time before being deployed.
Once finished in the living room Mary decided to focus her attention on the bedroom. She was clearing out various boxes and bags from the closet when something rather unexpected was found. Stuck in between an old suitcase and the back wall was one of Harold’s socks. Now, there weren’t many of Harold’s belongings left since their children had convinced her it was time to “clean up” late last year, so it did come as a bit of a shock.
Mary sat on the edge of her bed, staring at the sock in her hand as a fresh sense of loss overtook her. Memories of the life they had built together unraveled in her mind like scenes from an old movie projector. Eventually though, a wonderful thought took root. As it grew, so did the first genuine smile Mary had known since Harold’s passing.
She stood and made her way to the basement and then into the laundry room. In one corner was her sewing machine, tucked away in its table, with a small stool underneath. On the wall was a cupboard which Harold had built to store her sewing supplies. From the cupboard Mary retrieved her fold out sewing box and a small orange Tupperware container. She placed them on top of the sewing table along with Harold’s sock. Mary pulled out the stool and sat down on the cold vinyl seat. From her sewing kit she pulled out a case of needles and a half used spool of black thread. She positioned the sock on the center of the table and considered her next step.
To the casual observer the sock itself was nothing special. The elastic at the cuff was beginning to show, the plain black fabric was fading and thinning at the heel. At least it had been washed before being misplaced; Mary noted the distinct, although faint, floral scent of her favourite fabric softener.
Mary removed the lid from the Tupperware container and pushed a finger through the contents until she found and removed two large Jade buttons. Those particular buttons had come from a much cherished rain coat that Harold had given her on her fiftieth birthday. Sadly it had been ruined after being caught in the closing door of Harold’s 1976 Buick Electra. Mary had always disliked that car, even more so after the incident. Mary was not able to mend the resulting tear, so she had kept the buttons as a memento.
Mary fought the tremors in her hands as she wove the needle and thread through the fabric of the sock. After a few minutes of creative stitching and the addition of the Jade buttons she deemed the project complete. She turned the sock over once, then twice, inspecting her work. She grabbed the cuff and without hesitation, slipped her free hand inside. She adjusted and raised her left hand, and that was when Martin came to life.