Thursday, October 15, 2009

Grandparents-Part 1: Treasures in the Closet

Treasures in the Closet

Yesterday after I dropped Easton off at preschool I was determined to make the most of my morning and return home and accomplish something on my TO DO LIST before I returned to pick him up. But as I've found with most of my projects I tend to get a little side tracked mid-way through the process and it doesn't get totally finished and sometimes I end up with a bigger project of cleaning up than what I had when I started!

So my project yesterday was to go through my closet and get rid of ALL of my maternity clothes and post maternity clothes that worked well during those post-baby nursing months but that really aren't very flattering! I tend to get a little bit sentimental about things and so even though this might seem like a happy task I instead reminisced about when I wore such and such etc. In fact, I'm way too sentimental about clothes and I'm going to try to pare down my closet a little bit at a time because even though I don't buy clothes that often I still tend to wear the same things. (I seriously have things from the late-90's) Why have all that clutter? And I'm sure it's out of date. (We'll see how this goes if I can detach from them?)

In the process of making piles of "keep" and "donate" and "throw" Nolan was happily crawling under the clothes racks, snuggling with dad's shirt sleeve cuffs and playing peek-a-boo. Somewhere between the tank tops and the button-down flannel shirts I came across a wooden crate that I had bought for Jeff when we were dating that had since been turned into a box holding some old "love-notes" and some church things from long ago and a couple "sad-irons" that were given to me by my Grandma.--I cannot believe they used to iron clothes with those things! Man are they heavy!) I also found a white cardboard box that had also come from my Grandma Esther's house about 14 years ago. Many of the things from my Grandma Esther are so cherished but remain boxed up ... some because I don't yet have a China cabinet to display them and some because they mean so much and bring back just too many memories of her and how much I miss her and my dad (her son who died of a heart attack in 1999, 5 months before our wedding.) It's strange how one thing has strings that attach to so many other places in the heart. You can't untie one and not loosen or be led to another. In this box was a treasure of memories that many wouldn't appreciate or see the value that is so deeply sewn in every color and stitch and seam. My grandmother was a quilter ... mostly working on "Crazy quilts" that incorporated fabrics from old clothes that were wearing out or out-grown. She made quilts for all of her grandchildren for their graduations and weddings and it is so fun to look back and see some of the fabrics ... the argyle patterned poodle dog from an outfit when I was 5 and another piece from Grandpa's shirt and another from something my mom wore and another from the first quilt I sewed. She was sewing together the memories of a lifetime and similarly those memories are linked together that make the fabric of our family ties.

I'm sure the usefulness of old material was actually a necessity of making the most of everything a practice that she had kept since the Depression era in which she grew up but it also is such a reminder of how not to waste and to appreciate and value the memory of things beyond the shirt or coat or outfit ... and instead the person who wore it and maybe the event that you remember going to when they did.

It was not a surprise for me to find the box--I've known it was there--I just had not looked at it in a long time and it seems like I saw it all a little differently this time. The box contained 2 unfinished quilt tops. The first was a Crazy Quilt brightly stitched with Feather Stitching around EVERY piece that secured it to the flannel middle layer.

And the second was a beautiful "Grandmother's Flower Garden" pattern that I still vaguely remember her working on when I was little. I remember bursting through the screen door announcing "Hello?! Grandma?!" with the boundless energy of a little-girl! Running upstairs and seeing her in the bright sunlit East window by her sewing machine. (We lived next door and spent SO MUCH time with her and Grandpa! We literally would run across the back yard, through the alley and into her yard and into her house for a cookie or M&Ms or just to chat on a whim. It was very Andy Griffith-ish however instead of our town being "Mulberry" our town was "Mechanicsville"--honest.) So when she gave me this box of quilts when I was in Grad School it was like a passing of a legacy, one I did not want to fully look at quite yet. Part of me didn't want to take it without HER being able to finish it ... because I knew that would mean accepting that she was getting older and would not be able to finish it. And also I would have to accept letting her go at some point.

So, when I took the edges of the quilt yesterday and snapped it open over the surface of my bed it was as if her beautiful flower garden bloomed right in front of me and it was almost like in some way she was there in the room with me and my young son whom on this Earth she never met or even knew would be born. She stitched the memories so that I could remember and share them with him and his brothers and perhaps someday with their children when they come bursting through my screen door and ask for a cookie or M&M and watch me sewing memories for their children.


Tara Anderson said...

Just an idea...why don't you make your own "crazy quilt" out of some of those clothes you're so sentimental about? A maternity clothes quilt would be precious!!!

Shawna&Co. said...

Tara has a great idea!! Isn't it amazing how many hours she put into those quilts. The stitching looks perfect. She was so talented. I'm glad you were able to take the quilts out of the box and get to enjoy them. So did you get your clothes all gone thru before you had to pick Easton up?

The Sanders Family said...

Oh Valerie, this post made me cry. My grandparents all died before I got a chance to know them. How precious that you were able to be so close to your grandmother growing up, both in heart and proximity. That in itself is a blessing. But to have these beautiful quilts of legacy from her, that's something that will bless your children too!

And I'd sooooo like to take you shopping sometime to pick out some new clothes. You need to right, since you're getting rid of your old ones?!? You deserve a treat :)

TanyaLea said...

What a tender post. I am SO sentimental about things like this, I very much understand where those feelings come from. Your grandma's craftmanship is beautiful and what a wonderful gift that you have them in your family, to continue to pass down. Every piece of fabric tells a story and holds a precious memory... I love that!!

And how sweet of Angie to offer to take you shopping... sounds like a fun girls day to me!!! :)

If you do venture into an project of your own, like Tara sure to share it with us! I would love to see what you create. You were so blessed to have the relationship with your grandparents that you did, and what a great legacy to pass onto future generations!

Blessings and Hugs! <><

The family

The family