Handmade from her heart

From the time I was born, people told me I had "piano fingers," which meant they were long and skinny, not necessarily a compliment in my book. When I turned 9, Mama found the best piano teacher in Wilmington, Mrs. Lila Head, and I began taking piano lessons.

One of Mrs. Head's requirements of her students was to memorize one piece of sheet music and play it at the annual recital. Mama was an excellent seamstress and sewed my beautiful dresses for the event. On a ditch bank in our yard grew a lovely gardenia bush. On the afternoon of the piano recital, Mama cut two pretty gardenias, fashioned a ribbon around them to match my dress, and pinned the corsage to my dress just minutes before we left home.

For many years at recital time, Mama created a stunning original fashion for me to wear with my gardenia corsage. When I became an adult, I realized that Mama couldn't afford to buy me a dress or a corsage, thus the handmade dress and corsage. Because I was given so many compliments on both, I never knew or cared that money was extremely limited. My family was filthy rich with all that mattered: love.

Helen Walker, Indian Trail, Union Power

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