She was good at it, interviewing and hiring the operators, training them, scheduling, and keeping our official manual up to date: very important, we believed. She organized our annual Christmas Party, and she instigated the ‘TGIF’ Pizza Party, where we brought in a dozen huge pizzas every Friday afternoon, the office kitchen filled with the scent of fragrant tomato sauce. Operators who weren’t scheduled on Fridays dropped in anyway, so we knew it was a hit.
For such a thoroughly modern Millie, now and then she enjoyed sewing.
Before the Wherehouse record store moved in, the building across the street sold fabrics. There Lori would prowl the patterns bin. These envelopes, with names like Vogue, Butterick, and McCall’s, pictured a dress or blouse, and contained huge tissue-paper patterns to be cut out with pinking shears, those strange scissors that cut a zig-zag line. It was like making full-sized paper dolls.
With fabric covering our dining table, pinning the pattern to the cloth, Lori spoke with a mouthful of pins. “Grnmmrph,” she said, “Lrrrn mufr grnmmph rrmuphr.”
And then, for Christmas, she made me a beautiful bathrobe. In thick, soft, deep blue cloth, the robe was at once heavy and a delight upon the skin. Big pockets and a sash, and I felt like Henry the Fifth. I wore it, with great delight, for years and years.
The Spring following, we’d taken some days-old kittens from the Humane Society. When kittens arrive that young, a volunteer must be found to nurse them, else they die. I was that volunteer, and we had six kittens the size of little blind mice, to be fed one by one with the tiny bottle. They lived, they tumbled, they opened their tiny blue eyes and gazed with wonder and awe at me, their huge mama. They kicked, they rolled, they walked, they scampered, they climbed everywhere, and when they were old enough I returned them to the Humane Society where they were all adopted and went on to other adventures.
Except for one. This one stayed with us. When I dozed in my robe upon the sofa, the kitten would creep into the sleeve, and there would nap along with me, as soft and lovely as my wonderful robe.
I’ve received presents in my lifetime. This robe was one of the best presents ever. It reminded me of a cowboy-style red shirt my grandmother once made for me; the shirt had a yoke with white piping, and pearl snaps for buttons. Back then, as a child, I revelled in the shirt because it was so beautiful, and I felt like a sharp dresser.
Now, as an adult, I revelled in the robe because it had been made, by hand, for me, with love.