Tony Bennett wrote movingly about his mother in his book Just Getting Started, co-written with Scott Simon.
My mother taught me the most important lesson of my life: quality lasts.
My mother, Anna Suraci Benedetto, sewed dresses. She worked in a factory by day and brought home dresses at night because she was paid by the piece and had to support my brother, my sister, and me. My father had died when I was ten. Every night, we’d meet my mother at the Ditmars Boulevard el train stop, the north terminal of the lines from Queens, when she returned from Manhattan and help her carry home a big bundle of unsewn dresses. We’d climb the stairs, and she’d start to sew as soon as she got home. She’d stop to make us dinner, and after that, while we kids read or listened to music, she would bend over her sewing machine again to continue stitching dresses.
Sometimes she’d get her thumb caught under the sewing needle. She’d cry out in pain but put on a bandage and go back to work. She couldn’t afford to stop. Watching her made me vow, in my heart, to be so good at something I loved that my mother wouldn’t have to work again.
I sat next to my mother as she worked, just to be near her, and every now and then she’d pick up a new dress to be sewn, feel the cloth between her fingers, and set it aside with a frown.
She’d say, “I only work on quality dresses.”