She wanted to hand them to the man behind the counter. She found it almost impossible to let her gaze leave them. Possibly because if she allowed herself to look at anything else, they could be switched with another similar looking pair of amazing big, black scissors. She knew their power, was aware of their perfection. Losing them was a great fear.
It was as if she were bidding farewell to a limb or to her child, her only child. The only child that ever supported her dreams, her passions. The child that helped her to measure out the yardage and iron out the wrinkles. This child might be seduced by the outside world and never again be the one and only treasured assistant to this seamstress’s work.
They needed to be sharpened. She needed to get a grip.
The man behind the counter gently patted her hands to encourage her to let go on them. She held the scissors with a prayer-like gesture.
He reassured her he would take good care of them.
I stood at the back of the line. This hardware store was on Metropolitan Avenue not far from my mother’s childhood home, about 3 blocks from where I lived. It was 1987. The store seemed to be there forever with the wonderful services that a local hardware store provides for a neighborhood. The folks that worked in the store seemed careworn and old and related to each other. They seemed to know almost everyone that walked into the shop. I cannot remember what I was buying – maybe some hanging hardware or a copy of a key – but I remember the love that old woman had for those scissors. I remember the care that old man gave to her, the kind of concern that gave her permission to let go and trust someone with her most valued possession, her most valued tool.