11/29/2010 06:24 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

My Grandmother's Sewing Machine

Many, many years ago when I was working at The Seattle Times, I decided that I could no longer be married to my husband of seven years. So on the day after Christmas that year, I packed all I could reasonably fit in my little sports car and off I went.

Since we owned a home together, my leaving meant that my things in the house--suddenly and unbeknownst to me--became his.

The severity of this situation became evident when I called several days after moving out to say that I was coming over to pick up my sewing machine.

He declared, "That is no longer your sewing machine. You left it, and now it is mine."

"WHOA FELLA that is NOT your sewing machine," I said. "And since when do you even know how to sew?"

I went to the house when I knew he wasn't there, and sure enough the door locks on the house had been changed. It was then I realized: He doesn't want me to go and he's going to use this sewing machine to get me back.

The sewing machine was an antique, so I begged him to not sell it. He kept saying, "Well
you left it when you moved out," even though he knew that I couldn't possibly carry it or fit it into my car.

My mom gave me that sewing machine, which her mom had given to her. It wasn't fancy, and it only did straight stitching, but I loved to sew on that machine.

Since my grandmother died before I was born, the machine also represented a connection
to her. My mom, recognizing my talent for sewing, gave me, one of eight daughters, her prized sewing machine.

So now the machine was locked in my ex-husband's house, which was once my home. At this point I was beside myself with grief, and desperately wondering how I could ever get my grandmother's machine back.

I made a deal with one of my younger sisters. I would go to the house and steal the sewing machine, and hand it off to my sister for safekeeping. She said, "I'm in."

By this point my ex-husband had rented out two rooms in the house to help make the payments. Meanwhile, the attorneys working on each side of the divorce were trying to divide our estate.

So I walked up to the front door one day, and one of his renters was in the house. I said that I used to live there, and left something in the upstairs bedroom and wondered if he could help me move it.

"No problem," he said.

So up we went and got the machine, loaded it and away I went. WOOHOO, I now had the sewing machine and he could never try to hold that over me.

When he called and was irate that I had "stolen" the sewing machine, I challenged him with "Do you really believe that my grandmother's sewing machine is your machine?" He said, "YES," and I was so stunned that I just said "Goodbye" and hung up the phone.

Later he stalked my next temporary living situation, and then I moved once more and he
did not have that address.

He was a desperate man and did not want to let me go. But I prevailed--and got my
sewing machine.

© Copyright 2010 J. Weis