Saturday, November 15, 2008


I've been thinking lately about the things we inherit. I can't believe I've been married to Rob for several years now and he only JUST told me that webbed toes runs in his family. He knows how much I love odd characteristics like that. So I started thinking about all the things our littlest one may or may not inherit. Will they get their Grandpa Bill's clear blue eyes? Will they get the Clarksen cheeks? Will they have mama's shiny black hair or be a fair skinned little red head like their dad? Which then led me to thinking of the generations that went before us. We lost Rob's Grandma Boness last year. It didn't catch us completely unaware but was sudden none the less. My mom is in Tulsa visiting her own mother and preparing for her passing as well. My Grandma Fran gave me more than just her name. In fact, that was a gift from both of my Grandmothers.... something I've always held a deep sense of pride about. She was a resourceful woman. Some of my clearest childhood memories involve running through her rows of peas with the cousins. Years have passed since then and the unimaginable creeps in. One day it became apparent that the devil Alzheimer's had gone from simple forgetfulness, to robbing her of the ability to even thread her beloved sewing machine. I was touched and honored when my mom and her sisters asked me if I would want her sewing machine. Now, my close friends and family sort of laugh about my sewing machine situation. Some people horde cats, some newspapers, some nicknack's. I..... I can not say no to a sewing machine. When I was in college, mom found me a sweet little work horse that whipped up numerous things for roommates and friends. Then I graduated to her beloved Pfaff. The same machine she had sewn my own baby clothes on. When my Aunt Marjorie lost her fight with breast cancer(check often!!! check thoroughly!!!) I inherited a beautiful Singer Featherweight. So, by the time Grandma Fran's machine came, the term "machine addict" had already been tossed around. Then a few years later, Rob's Grandma Boness passed on and tear filled eyes turned to me and asked "would you?" It was then that I realized I needed to take these blessings and share them. Two of these machines now reside at the church where I teach any child who is interested, how to sew on a machine. Now, when they deconstructed the craft rooms of these women, its not just their machines that came along. It was their knitting needles.... their crochet hooks... half used balls of yarn.. their patterns, clippings from Good Housekeeping, and half done sewing projects. You will never EVER hear me whine that I don't have a particular size knitting needle. When I pick up each pair, I wonder what she made with this set. Who got a Christmas gift made from these very needles. And with each box of this and that, I would find treasures. In my grandma's things, I found patterns for presents she had lovingly made for us grandchildren as heirlooms when she knew that her mind would not always let her do such things. And when I looked even closer, I found links to my mother's childhood and how things come full circle. This wooden needle case holds the most beautiful set of metal knitting needles. They are gauge 0 which, for our non knitters, is almost the smallest you can go. I have never attempted anything that delicate but once in a while I open it and touch them. I tell myself, "One day you will complete a project with these.... and then, you will know you really know your stuff." But the most dear thing is the little price tag. It is from a long gone store in Milwaukee, WI. And the set was only 15 cents. Most people don't know, but my mom was born in Milwaukee before they relocated to Tulsa, OK later in her childhood. So when I fell in love and moved to Wisconsin, it just sort of felt right. In the box of projects from Rob's Grandma's house, I stumbled upon a very much used and well loved knitting pattern for children's mittens. She marked it off each time she used it. Numerous check marks, and most every size had been circled at some point. Made me wonder which of those check marks were for a pair made to keep his mom's little fingers warm as a child. And then later to keep her grand children's fingers safe from the bitter winds blowing in off the lake.

All of this makes me think of what I have inherited...... not in dollars or truly even in materials at all. I run my fingers through the jars and vases of needles.... I flip through well loved Christmas decoration patterns.... and I think about all that I am and where it came from. Religion, to me, is merely the culture of faith one grew up with. In my own family I have seen how important it is to hold onto that culture. No matter what roof it was practised under, we all inherited that importance of faith. I inherited the belief that if something is wrong, you stand up against it. Even if it isn't the popular stance. If someone is hurt, you lay down your burden and help ease theirs. I also inherited the gift of craft..... of sewing, knitting, creating. We don't always realize where our gifts come from and just take it for granted. I challenge you to look at your passions and then try to trace back who or what along the way encouraged it. I am proud that my first successful venture into sewing is imortalized on the wall of my parents' bathroom. This little piece of muslin was my first piece.... done at age 4 or 5.
Many years later, I got this very picture inked into my upper arm. To remind me of sitting at my mom's feet in her bedroom as she tried to get a sewing project done. She could have easily told me to go watch tv or play out in the backyard. Instead, she handed me some scrap fabric and a needle and a little bit of encouragement. That was all it took to send me down a path that quite honestly, changed my life. So, with all this.... it makes me wonder, what will my child inherit from me? What shall they gather from their dad? My mom had no way of knowing what lay ahead of me while I stood there at her knee with a bored look on my face. Who are you going to inspire this week? Who have you inspired into their own creativity?

1 comment:

  1. Tears and thanks and love. Rob told me of your blog today, so I started at the beginning (instead of going to bed.)