Sewing Hope
Angels on Earth|Jan/Feb 2021
It wasn’t in my power to mend a broken heart, but I sent needle and thread, with chocolates for good measure
ROBERTA MESSNER

Red hearts decorated the windows inside the dollar store, but that wasn’t what I’d come in for today. I’d stopped off on my way home from my nursing shift at the V.A. Mental Health Clinic as a favor to one of my patients.

Irv was a Vietnam veteran who struggled with alcohol abuse. So much so that I’d referred him to a rehab center out of state. Irv wasn’t happy about going, but he went. “You wouldn’t believe it here, Bert,” he’d told me over the phone. “Saddest bunch of soldiers I’ve ever seen.”

“Alcoholism will suck the spirit out of a person,” I said. “I can imagine.”

“It’s not just that,” Irv said. “There are fourteen of us, and boy, are we are a ragtag group. Buttons missing, popped seams, torn pockets. I’m itching to teach the guys to sew; I took care of things like that back in Nam. But try finding a needle and thread in this place. It’s impossible. I don’t suppose you could find me a sewing kit?”

Irv didn’t like to ask for help, so I was glad he had reached out with even this simple request, one not just for himself but also in the interest of others. It was a good sign.

I wheeled my cart into the appropriate aisle and came upon an entire row of sewing kits. Enough for each one of the soldiers in Irv’s group. Why not send them all a Valentine gift? I tossed the kits into my cart, counting them out and thinking of the men who’d been through so much.

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