|Her pride became such a joy to me!|
After a few years, she would just laugh when my mother told her about "the beautiful things" I made with her machine, because she no longer remembered owning a sewing machine. It was so sad for me to think that she had truly forgotten more than I ever knew about the art of sewing.
Nanny made great fitting, stylish outfits for me. There was one outfit in particular that stands out: a solid orange knit skirt and a coordinating striped tank top. I loved it. I'm sure my eight-year-old tomboy self wore it out. It rivaled the best RTW of the time, which we all know was much higher quality in the early 70's. I normally hated skirts and dresses, but I loved that one.
My mom still brags about the formal gowns her mother made her, with nothing more than a description of what she envisioned; no pattern necessary, maybe not even a picture. Nanny would grab some newsprint, draft her own pattern and it would turn out beautifully. I imagined a true fairy godmother at work.
|My grandmother's family, sans her eldest brother (she is center back). |
Most of them were adults with their own families by the time this one was taken.
She survived all her siblings, by many years.
However, her extreme attention to crafting perfection is the reason my mother never taught me to sew. My mom's painful memories of ripping out imperfect seams, and sobbing at the sewing machine under the tutelage of her mother prevented her from exposing me to something similar. I had to wait for my seventh grade Home Ec teacher to show me how to thread a machine.
My memories of my grandmother run much broader and deeper than sewing. She was a wonderful lady, with a great sense of humor, who worked hard her whole life, much of it as her family's breadwinner. She was a kind Sunday school teacher, always incorporating some sort of craft into the first-graders' lessons. A wonderful storyteller, she fascinated me with her tales of playing hooky from kindergarten, walking to the river to talk to the fishermen by herself and hopping freight trains to travel from one side of the city to the other (also alone). She worked as a riveter on B29s in WWII. An exceptional athlete, she played on a national soccer team and held the high jump record at her high school for decades. She helped me see how important forgiveness was, most of all to the one doing the forgiving.
|Me, my mom and Nanny. A long time ago. Nanny is radiant, |
because she doesn't have to worry about me being an old maid anymore.
Nanny's battle with dementia and a failing body ended last week, at 93. I had already missed her for a very long time. I will be forever grateful for her many gifts, always reminded of them all when I sew.