Friday, July 2, 2010

One Year Ago, In Memory

If you've ever lost someone close to you, you probably remember where you were when you got the news.

I was in Walmart.

And while you may not remember the entire conversation, you remember parts of it.

Unresponsive...ambulance...it doesn't look good...hospital...

My mother passed away a year ago, on Friday, July 3, 2009.

I have been feeling somewhat melancholy and distracted as the one-year mark approached. Things I wouldn't have expected have reminded me -- the smell of the air on my evening walk, the color of the summer sky. Those sensory impressions registered deeply somewhere during the days that followed that one. I walked a lot, praying, thinking, and having silent conversations.

There wasn't much that had been left unsaid, really. That was comforting. Two days before, I had called her and woke her up from a nap. She wasn't awake enough to gather her thoughts for a conversation, and we both laughed about that. It was a short call, and, in the way she ended all our phone conversations, she said, "I love you."

Mom taught me to sew when I was very young. At first, it was hand-sewing simple doll clothes or patches of scraps from her overflowing scrap bin. My first formal lesson was when I was a preteen, and she showed me how to make myself a skirt. Not just any skirt, a plaid skirt. She showed me how to match the plaids. If they weren't matched correctly, she had me unpick the seam and try again. She was a perfectionist and had high expectations of her children, and that wasn't a bad thing. I wanted to learn how to do it right and I wanted to please her, so I did as instructed, even though it was somewhat frustrating and tedious. She set up the secondhand machine she'd bought for me to learn on right next to hers, and we sat sewing side by side. One-on-one time with Mom was a precious commodity in our family of six, and those early days when she was mentoring me are some of my fondest memories. I never took a Home Ec class. Didn't need to. I had the best teacher right at home.

Through the years, Mom churned out innumerable things from her sewing room. She made clothing for herself and the entire family, dolls, costumes, stylized uniforms for the waitresses at the supper club where she worked, quilts, and other handicrafts, including those knitted, crocheted, and cross-stitched.

Between raising us kids, working outside the home, and other endeavors, she somehow made the time. Many nights I fell asleep with the sound of her sewing machine whirring away in the room below my bedroom.

Mom was highly creative, curious, smart as a whip, and not afraid to crack one either. And you'd better watch out because she tended to have a short fuse. She was not afraid of using color, both in her sewing and crafting, as well as her language when it was useful to illustrate her point. Although she was certainly loving and gracious, my mother didn't always give off the warm fuzzies. She was a complex human being, just like the rest of us.

These are the last few quilt tops Mom made. All of them were done in the mid-1990s, before a stroke paralyzed her left arm.




A couple years after her stroke, she gave me permission to have these tops machine quilted by a longarm quilter. I knew it was bittersweet for her not to be able to finish them herself in the way she had intended, but she was glad they got quilted. She then gave a quilt to each of her three granddaughters.

Mom left a legacy in these and other works and deeds, and in sharing her knowledge. For that, and for so much more, I am grateful.

7 comments:

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

What a lovely post! You captured the essence of your Mom so well that I am able to vividly see her giving you sewing lessons in my mind's eye. I can even hear her, though I never met her! I'm so sorry for your loss. Yes, her legacy will continue through you. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful tribute. May her memory be eternal. Hugs to you, my blog friend. :o)

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

P,

My thoughts are with you on this difficult anniversary.

However you've really give me a clear picture of who your Mum was, feisty, human, loving, no nonsense, creative, artistic-all rolled up into one package. Thank you for letting us share your memories of your Mum and her wonderful quilts !

Michelle said...

What lovely memories! No wonder you sew and quilt so well. You had a great, if tough teacher. Your mom made some wonderful quilts. Those 3 are real beauties. I can see the perfectionism you mention.

I can hear her sewing machine going at night.

Hugs to you my friend as you go through this one year anniversary.

Pokey said...

Blessings to you today. She sounds like a beautiful woman, and it is good to have such warm memories. I do believe losing my Momma was harder than most any thing I've gone through to date.

Jane said...

You wrote a beautiful post and a loving tribute to your mother. She was obviously a very talented lady who passed that talent on to her daughter.
Thanks for sharing your mother's wonderful qualities with us.
Jane

GA-P said...

You brought tears to my eyes with this one. I remember when she had the stroke and how difficult it was for everyone, especially her, to adjust. She was such an independent and unique person. You are a lot like her.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I, too, thought of Mom over the weekend. Memory triggers for me were hot weather and invitations to fireworks - last year I didn't feel like celebrating. Called Dad and invited him for dinner. We observed the 4th as Mom's day of independence and freedom. In that context, we can feel the light in spirit. Miss her. Like you, I have memories of special times. Deine schwester, Nita

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