Saturday, January 2, 2010

Traditions or Memories

I start most mornings with a cup of coffee. When I reach into the cabinet to get a mug, I look to see if THE mug is clean and available. What is this mug? It is not fancy, it is not from some cool place that reminds me of a fancy vacation, it doesn't match any other mug. So what makes it THE mug? It was my Grandmother Eads' mug. Well, I made the mug for her. It is a plain white mug on which I used a paint pen and wrote "Grandmother". You remember that time in our lives when we used paint pens to write on mugs, plastic boxes and we used the dots on each letter? Well, now you get the picture. Although, through the years of use and washings, the words are washed off and the mug is back to being just plain white. But, my grandmother loved the mug and used it quite often. So, each morning begins with thoughts of my grandmother. Just like that I am transported back in time to her little kitchen. The smell of coffee and biscuits fills my nostrils and the sound of the wind through the screen door fills my ears. And for that second, she is here. My grandmother is the one to blame for my coffee addiction. She started me young....3 years old. Of course back then it was more cream and sugar than coffee. But my grandmother was a huge influence in my life. She gardened, crocheted, cooked, and loved her God and family. I named my daughter after her, that is how important she is to me. Unfortunately my children never got to know her, although my son met her when he was 3 months old. But there are no memories of her for them. Yet, they each feel they know her. Why? Because Grandmother Allie as she is now known in my home is kept alive with memories. I share memories constantly with my children. They roll their eyes when I mention THE mug. They cringe as I knit with embarrassment. But they know that this hobby takes me back to sitting next to my grandmother as she patiently taught me to crochet. I have kept her spirit alive in my life through returning to some of her favorite past-times. I taught myself to knit several years ago in an attempt to keep her memory alive. I try to garden, although I am AWFUL at it. I have purple irises in my yard because they were her favorite flower. And on it goes.

For the last 4 days, I have been keeping alive another memory. The memory of my other grandmother, Grandmother Riley. I am teaching my daughter how to sew. She is having a "homemade" Christmas with her best church friends. So, she decided to make them all pajama pants. She had "helped" her adult friend, M, sew pj's for me several years ago. She thought this would be a great and easy idea. Of course, as she is finding out, M actually did most of the work back then. But I am proud of her, she is working hard at this new skill. We are still in the cutting out phase. She must do all of this herself as my thumbs can no longer cut with scissors. It is back breaking work, as we are doing it on our dining room table and dd is now over 5'9" tall. As I sit at the table and pin the pattern to the fabric, I am transported to my grandmother's bedroom/sewing room. My grandmother was a professional seamstress. She made wardrobes for the most prestigious women in Amarillo, TX, back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. She made everything from winter coats, to ballgowns encrusted with sequins, to pantsuits, to nightgowns. She was truly amazing. I never had store-bought clothes until I was 9 years old and we had moved to another state. I have negative memories of standing while grandmother pinned clothes on me. "Be still" "Stop wriggling" "Stand tall" "Stop slouching" My grandmother wasn't very patient with me. I was a "pistol" back then. This is one of many adjectives they used to describe me. I was also very strong-willed butting heads with a very strong woman! This resulted in many knock-down drag outs where she usually won, being that she was the adult. But as I sit with my daughter and tell her the stories, I am bringing her spirit to life. Although there are more negative feelings in these stories than with my other grandmother, there are still many significant lessons I learned from her. And I think of her often.

I wonder as I write this, what memories or traditions will be passed down to revive my spirit? Will a grandchild one day learn how to knit or crochet and think of me every time they pick up the needles? Or will they scrapbook and think of all the scrapbooks I have left them? Or maybe on their way to the library they will think of my love of books? Or watching a movie will remind them of curling up with me to watch a movie? I don't know. I do know that my grandchildren will not have to rely solely on my children's memories of me. They will have this blog. They will have all my scrapbooks. They will have all my writings that Jack saves. So I live my life, which has been influenced by many others before me, in such a way that I hope will influence those to come in a positive fashion. There will be negative feelings, I am human, but hopefully there will be many more positive.

What memories/traditions are you making as you live your life? Whose spirit are you bringing back to life? As I go about my day today, I will ponder these ideas. Will you?

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