“In destitution, even of feeling or purpose, a human being is more hauntingly human & vulnerable to kindnesses because there is the sense that things should be otherwise, & the thought of what is wanting & what alleviation would be, & how the soul could be put at ease, restored. At home.”
~Marilynne Robinson, Home
I’ve been absent from my blog for some time and part of it has been due to lack of time but part of it has been time reflecting. It’s on ordinary nights in an ordinary moment like this when I’m sitting at the kitchen table munching a taco when overwhelming thoughts of my grandmother come to my mind.
I miss her, so much. She has been lingering closer to me than usual for weeks. It’s coming up on 3 years since she left this Earth and while some of what I feel could be attributed to that, I believe that I feel her presence more intensely during rough patches. As though she’s here telling me that she’s proud of me (like she always did), and that I can overcome anything.
Several weeks ago I came across the notebook I used to write notes in for the talk I gave at her services and later used to write a few journal entries in regarding my grief of her loss. Reading it again brought me down to Earth from the struggles I’ve been consumed with. I wanted to share those thoughts to give you some idea why I decided to pursue this craft passion. The quote from the top is one that I wrote down in a journal entry shortly after her passing and has continued to hit home with me. The below is not an exact script of what I said that day-but based on the notes I wrote down-I think I got it pretty close.
October 5, 2013
The Life Lessons My Grandma Would Want Us To Live….
It’s evident by all of the faces in this room today that no amount of words or personal memories I could relate to you would do justice to the legacy left behind by my grandmother. In listening to family & friends of family speaks about her these past few days and hearing a common theme “I need to be more like her” I’ve decided that the greatest honor & tribute we could do for her is just that-leave no doubt to those around you that (she) touched your life-or in the case of her family, your behind-for good. So I’ve compiled a small list of life lessons I felt she would want us to apply in our own lives. In no particular order:
- Write important things down. There was never a time that I gave her a photograph that she didn’t flip it over and hand it back to me with a pen and say “write the names, ages and dates on it”. She loved genealogy & she knew how much of a difference it made when a name and date was tied to a photograph!
- Speak your mind. There isn’t a personal story I can share here that isn’t incriminating. However, if you know my grandmother, you know she never hesitated to say exactly what she thought.
- Keep your hands busy. My grandma was always making something or doing something with her hands. From quilts to puzzles knitting newborn hats, reading, peeling potatoes, her hands were always busy! And she would expect you to work with her whenever you went to visit her while she was working. You could never just stand and talk to her. Both her and my mother always said, “If you can’t talk & work at the same time, stop talking.”
- Be loyal and committed-especially to your spouse. No matter what circumstances arose, my grandmother was committed & loyal to my grandfather. Probably even to a fault. She was loyal and committed to anything she took interest in whether it was her faith or the service she provided to others. In fact, on one such occasion of service, she was on her way to deliver her famous homemade rolls to the funeral luncheon of my paternal grandmother and fell stepping out of the door and hurting her hip. Her concern was not in allowing the EMT’s to care for her and get her to the hospital, her concern was in delivering those rolls while they were still warm! She was committed to not letting anyone down on that roll commitment!
- Exercise your 2nd amendment right. My grandmother was not afraid to handle or carry a firearm. She proved this time and time again by always having it in her purse, the glove box of her car or my all-time personal favorite, a personal belongings bag full of yarn and knitting needles! During the time that my grandfather was ill and in the hospital for several weeks, I spent almost every day eating lunch in the hospital cafeteria with her. She wouldn’t leave the hospital (refer back to #4) where she might be too far away to help him if he needed her. On one of these days I showed up to the hospital room to get her and she asked me to reach into the white plastic “Personal Belongings” bag & grab the paper envelope full of cash out. I thought it was odd that she would keep an envelope full of cash in there rather than her purse and when I asked her about it she simply said, “because a robber isn’t going to take that plastic sack from me, he’s going to go for my purse!” I laughed but she had a good point. Anyhow, I opened up the plastic sack to get the cash out and to my surprise this unassuming plastic bag had 4 things in it; Yarn, A pair of knitting needles, The envelope of cash, and a PISTOL!!!! I smashed the opening closed and I yell-whispered “Grandma!!!!! WHY DO YOU HAVE A GUN IN HERE???? YOU CANNOT BRING THIS INTO THE HOSPITAL!” She simply said, “The hell I can’t. I will not walk to the overnight house without protection.” **Just for reader info, she was not a small or frail woman. She was 6 foot 2 inches tall and built like a football player.
- My grandmother was an amazing display of the importance of family and taking pride in your family. As I mentioned before, she was very involved in genealogy research. But even beyond that, anyone that talked to her knew without a doubt that her family and her grandchildren, in particular, were her pride and joy. She loved “bragging” about all that we were accomplishing and was the first to show encouragement and support in any of the endeavors we pursued.
- Sing like no one is listening. She LOVED to sing the hymns in church. But, she had a TERRIBLE singing voice. I have to apologize to anyone that sat within a 10-pew radius of her in church and witnessed this love of singing. Her favorite hymn is How Great Thou Art and I can still hear her super off-key and embarrassingly loud voice anytime I hear that song! But you know what I admired most about that-she Did. Not. Care. what anyone thought of her voice. She was going to sing and sing LOUD.
- Last but not least-My grandmother taught me to plan ahead!!! That woman had Christmas shopping done and gifts wrapped before Halloween. And even down to the details of today which were pretty much planned and paid for years ago, she planned ahead.
Thank you for letting me share a piece of my grandmother, a piece of myself and why I love this craft passion. It was always such a big piece of my life-and not just influenced by my grandmother but my mother taking the time to teach me when I was young and giving me the confidence to try. Even after I cross-stitched my project to the front of my dress-several times. The things that I treasure the most are the conversations and the bonding that happened over our craft projects we worked on together and my hope is to share just a little bit of that with each of you.