Monday, February 16, 2009


I tried to scan in my most recent picture of her, but this one of her as a young girl will have to do. And how do you like the fancy Art Deco frame? Marie was my grandmother.

Marie was born before 1920 and grew up during the Great Depression. I remember her telling me one time, "We were very poor, even by the standards of the day. I remember thinking it would be nice to have furniture, and curtains." Curtains! I heard a story once of how their family had a big get-together, and they borrowed a chair from a neighbor for one of the elderly relatives to sit in. Marie had a big family and she loved her sisters dearly. I have pictures of the sisters at a sleepover a few years ago, some of them in their 80s!

As evidence of her thriftiness, I have spools with several different bits of thread, and boxes of her buttons (some used) and sewing notions:

And Marie was full of joy. She was frugal but generous, loved having visitors, loved having her picture taken. During my childhood, my grandparents lived in Nebraska, but they moved to Colorado while I was a teen, and I saw her almost every week until she passed away. I knew her very well. Her generosity was extraordinary, but the most extraordinary thing about her was her relationship with God, which colored her whole life. She was patient, and kind, and humble without being timid. She wasn't just generous with her worldy goods, but also with her love and friendship. When she passed away, I helped clean out her home, and I was able to keep her diaries. All her adult life, she kept a diary. Many were five-year diaries so there was room for only a few sentences a day. I haven't had time to read them all, but I did initially look through her entries for 1941. She was married in December of 1941, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I was amazed at her deep friendship with Jesus, even as a young woman. Here's her entry for December 7, 1941:

"Japanese attacked Hawaiian Is.! We are in the war at last. Glad I've my faith in the One who is alpowerful - who can keep me, what He sees fit to allow is best for me."

I was reminded of her today as I was enjoying a moment of warmth outside, and pondering my shed. It needs curtains, and I would love to make some eyelet curtains for it. And I was reminded of some beautiful linens I ended up with. There are four pillowcases with lilacs embroidered, and crocheted edging. I don't know if she made them, but she certainly kept them nice. They would make the cutest curtains. Unfortunately, they are stained, and I don't know if I can clean them. Do you?

As I was looking for the pillowcases to photograph, and looking through a box of her stuff, I waded through vintage handkerchiefs and photos; I have a whole box of handkerchiefs and don't know what to do with them. It would be a shame to leave them in a box until someone's going through my things. I also have a handful of her brooches. When I was little, I loved looking through her boxes of brooches: she wore one to church every Sunday, and probably anytime she got dressed up to visit or for a party, etc. By the time she died, many of them were missing pieces or were broken, but I do have a few.

And lest you think she was all solemnity and piety, let me set the record straight. She was quite a whistler, and loved to tell jokes, don't you know - clean ones, of course. She wasn't a clean domino player, though! She used age and lack of hearing to sneak a peak at your tiles, when necessary. And boy, did she like a water fight. When she passed away, one of BFJ's friends asked me, "Was that your grandma who was spraying everyone with the hose last July?" As a matter of fact, it was.

My mom is just as good a grandmother, and I am glad to see how much fun my kids have with her. I am reminded that I should stop and smell the roses a bit more, myself.
PS She was married to this guy.


quiltmom said...

What a wonderful post about your grandma- I loved your stories that reflect the wonderful woman that she was- the memories help to bring comfort don't they...
I love the beautiful brooches- my gran had many of them and I inherited some of hers after she was gone.
The hankies could be used to make a hankie quilt - I have seen patterns for them and I wished that I had some of my grans to make one. The only thing I could suggest is to google it and see what is available on Google( it seems to me that there was a pattern in an old Fabric trends magazine but I am not sure which issue)
I loved the linens- my mom did embroidery and she has a few pieces that she gave to my gran.The lilacs are really lovely.
I hope that you find a solution to the stains so that you can make curtains with it.
I am sure that your gran would have loved this post...

Candace said...

Karen, your grandmother was born the same time as my mother was - it's so sweet to see glimpses of her past and they are so close to my mothers. If the pillowcases are 100 percent cotton (and they should be from that era as well as the thread) you can surely wash them without any problems. There is a quiltwash that's usually available from your LQS that might do the trick. I would try soaking them first in cool water with Woolite, though. Let me know how they come out.

Stephanie D. said...

What a lovely story! And she was a cutie, too--no wonder your grandfather fell in love with her!

I love old brooches and old jewelry, broken though it might be. I have a tin of old jewelry picked up at an estate sale and hope to use pieces of it someday in an art quilt.

Hope you can get the stains out!

Library Gal Quilts said...

Hi Karen, Your post about your Grandmother was a wonderful way to start my day. Your description fully brings her to my mind. Awesome! The diary is a wonderful thing, and just think, you are keeping a diary of a different kind as you blog! You know you can have your blog printed at:
blogworld/printmyblog/index.html which I have thought of doing so I don't lose it! You know, I think I have heard this is a good product for older linens,
and I have also used OxiClean. Thanks for your comment on my blog and I hope you join the Coin Quilt Piece a Long! Stop by again! Pam in Chico

MARCIE said...

Love this post about your grandmother. You have given her a lovely tribute.