Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Remembering Grandma

I spent the better part of today at the nursing home in conference with my mother's care givers. Is is something the home does on a quarterly basis but it usually leaves Mom and me drained of mental energy. I wish, for her sake, that she didn't have Alzheimer's, and that the cooks at the home made better tasting food. But, sadly, she does and they don't. Some days are full of sunshine and some days are bitterly cold. Today was a cold day weather-wise and a sunshine day of clarity for Mom. We had a good visit after the meeting. We like to work jigsaw puzzles together. I can't remember a day of my life living in my mother's home that there wasn't a jigsaw puzzle up on a table in the family room. So, in an effort to help keep her mind active, I convinced the staff at the home (when I first had to put her in there) to set up a puzzle in the library for her to work on. We furnish the puzzles and anyone is welcome to work on them, though few attempt to do so. This is the room where our family gathers with her when we go to visit each week.

Today she wanted to talk about her own mother, and how she had helped to raise my sister and me. Grandma had 6 children and 19 grandchildren. I believe she had 27 great grandchildren at the time she passed into God's hands. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother as a child. She taught me how to raise parakeets, plant and tend the flower beds around her house, and how to preserve foods by drying and canning. It was she who patiently taught me how to embroider, tat and crochet. My own mother never had an interest in the needlearts.

Today Mom and I also chatted about how Grandma liked to collect little poems, verses, recipes and so forth from the newspapers, magazines, church bulletins and greeting cards. I remember that Grandma had a rather deep, pale pink quilted box that she kept in her hall linen closet. She would put these clippings in there, for the most part. But, when she passed away, I found one of these clippings tucked inside one of her cookbooks. I kept the cook book and the verse. It said a lot to me about the farm wife my grandmother had been.

Through my EGA chapter I had an opportunity to be involved in a Round Robin in which the participants could choose a theme that was meaningful to them and then the others would stitch motifs in that theme to make what is termed a spot sampler. I didn't have to think very long to know that my grandmother's saved verse was one that I wanted on that sampler!

I chose a very loosely woven 32 ct. white linen and DMC #3371 cotton floss to stitch the verse. I did the verse in petit point (over 1 thread) in order to get it all on the sampler and leave room for my friends to put on their own patterns. You can see that they each took some part of the verse and tried to express it in picture form. There is the farmland and some products from the farm (wheat, raw foodstuffs & herb plants). There is a woman turning the soil and/or picking food and another preparing to serve food out in the cornfield (Grandma often fed the noon meal in the field during the corn harvest). The bread, jams and baked goods signify the end products of cooking and canning. The horn-of-plenty (cornucopia) is also in petit point and was a favorite decoration of my grandmother's year around. You can see that each of my friends initialed and dated their contribution to the sampler. Again, I have written their full names and the location where this sampler was stitched, along with an explanation of where the verse originated and to whom the sampler belongs, inside the frame on the back of the mounting board. This is in case this sampler outlives me. I think it is important to let future generations know who stitched what, where and when.

This sampler hangs in my dinette, above the pass through bar. I see it everyday and think of how my grandmother taught me so many of the 'pleasures of being a gentle woman', as she would have said. Someday I will tell you about her wringer washing was a doozy!


Ruby said...

I enjoy looking at your samplers. Great family history and memories. A real inspiration.


Amy said...

Ruby is right, a real inspiration. The sampler is beautiful and what memories it brings, I'm sure.

Olde Dame Penniwig said...

What a touching post. I'm glad your mother was having a good day mentally. What a terrible strain on your heart, though, to see her afflicted. Hang in there.

I really enjoyed reading about your Grandma. When it's all said and done, few things can match our memories of our loving grandmothers, if we were lucky enough to have one. My grandmother also taught me all the little sewing/crafty things that my mother had no interest in. I'm hoping for a granddaughter to pass it on to!

Karen said...

Your sampler turned out so lovely!! Aren't Grandma's great? Mine taught me to emboider too. She was so patient w/me. I guess homes haven't changed my Grandma hated the food and refused to eat much of the time. Hang in there.
Karen K

Barbara said...

Shari Your life and mine parallel so closely. My grandmother also saved clipping and put into
a scrapbook. I still have the original one. My sister had copies made and bound so that we have one to share with family without ruining the original. Love your sampler and how you related it to her. My mom also had alz and she loved jigsaws and word searches but wasn't into the needlearts either. My gram was the one who taught me the domesticated things like that and gardening and canning. You are doing a terrific thing keeping her legacy alive. Thanks so much for sharint this with the world. Hugs. Barb IHS.