The Slow-Cooked Sentence

A sewing lesson

Rachael Conlin Levy

On a day when I drove my dad into town for cancer radiation treatment and my children stayed behind with my mom, it was inevitable that they sewed, for quilting fills her days as well as her living room, closets and kitchen.


Boys can sew!


On a day when I watched my dad lay his body on a slab and swallow his cough, raking a burned esophagus, my sons learned to wield a razor, puncture with needle and blast steam.




On a day when we left the hospital and my dad sank into a burning sleep, my babies sewed pillows of cool cloth to cradle the head, and I wished, like Charles Simic, for a needle swift enough to sew a poem into a blanket.


6 responses to “A sewing lesson”

  1. Beautiful family photographs (memories).

    To step back and see it this way, the destruction of radiation and the beauty of your children creating. Same day, same time. It feels hopeful.

    Your reference to Charles Simic struck me. A few years back I embroidered a poem about my father into muslin with red thread and pinned it to my studio wall. I love the idea of a poem sewn into a blanket.

  2. kyndale says:

    I seriously love that picture of you all. I hope your dad is doing well after his last treatment?

  3. Andrea says:

    Beautiful! Beautiful children, beautiful quilt squares, beautiful mama, beautiful words. Strange how life can be heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. Hoping the treatments are working for your dad.

  4. Christina says:

    Lovely family photos, and how good it must be for your mother to pass along her skills and love of quilting to her grandchildren at such a difficult time. I am very sorry that your father and your family are enduring the trials of cancer.

  5. Rachael says:

    Denise, I like the idea of a stitched poem. It has me thinking …

    Kyndale, Andrea and Christina, my dad is doing well given the circumstances. Thank you for your kind thoughts and well wishes.

  6. Too hard. What a rollercoaster day for you. So much distress, and so much delight. I hope you can find some still to let it all wash through you.

    What a precious family you have. There is so much warmth and connection in all the photos.

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