Are you close to your grandmothers? I always think of my Grandma Bee at this time of year. Her birthday is in April, she loved flowers, her fluffy white hair looked like a puff of cloud on her dainty noggin. Just like her mother’s before her. She was a sweet little thing. She’s been gone for over a decade, but lately I find myself missing her more than ever. Missing all my grandmothers and great aunties and the ladies that came before me. I have an aching sort of need to know them better and learn from them. To share the stories of my own little children with them, seek their advice and wisdom.
It’s not possible now, of course, they’ve all gone back to Heaven, right where they belong. So I’m finding connections, comfort in the tangible things they left behind.
My great grandmother I never really knew; I met her once or twice when I was very small and she was very old and infirm, During my last visit to my mom’s house, I found this quilt in her linen closet and quickly begged it off of her. It has a story, but I only know a small part of it.
This quilt was made for my Great Grandma Edna Bird in 1937. That brown quilt block in the corner tells me so! She belonged to a church circle–ladies from her congregation met regularly to make quilts for each other I’m sure it was a great social event with iced teas and twittering gossip. Each lady in the circle stitched her own block, hand embroidered her name in it, then they stitched the squares all together and tied them off with a front and a back. Then they added the binding. All by hand.
Considering it’s nearly 100 years old, it’s in great shape. I curl up under it whenever I need to feel extra cozy. It’s just right, somehow, and makes me wonder about each lady, with names like Ethel and Oda and Maude. I wonder where their fabric scraps came from–a little girl’s romper? A worn out shirtdress? A husband’s shirt? What were their personalities? Did they gossip and giggle over chicken salad and lemon meringue pie and iced tea?
My cute little Grandma Bee who adored flowers and jewelry, well, I did know her and love her dearly. She grew masses of irises in front of her little house, year after year. When she passed, the bulbs were dug up and divided, and some were sent to me. They grew! For the first few years only 2 or 3 blossomed, but now each June I enjoy purple, white, yellow and burgundy blossoms right outside my window–like my grandma is smiling back at me. These started up early this year, so maybe they’ll bloom early, also. Assuming this late spring snow is just a fluke, of course. Those green shoots give me a little hope despite the lingering winter around here.
This turquoise ring was one of her own. I’m crazy about it, and not just because it’s turquoise. When I wear it I see that my grandma wasn’t always frail and delicate, but that she’d once been pretty tough and even a bit adventurous. Maybe even feisty. It’s not the kind of thing a shy, fragile, or uppity kind of gal would wear. Maybe we were more alike than I realize, my Grandma Bee and I.
I’m all kinds of sentimental these days, longing for my own chance to sit in a quilt circle with my great grandmothers and harness some of their wisdom, or take the old truck up to Banff for a fishing trip with my Grandma Bee and ask her a million questions, pour my heart out, seek her advice. I can’t do those things, but I can keep these great ladies close to me with these little treasures, treasures I can use and enjoy rather than keep in a musty old box. These are precious, living memories.
Are you sentimental? Do you keep family heirlooms?