Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Remembering Ma-Ma

Not a day goes by that I don't think of my grandmother - and this was before her homecoming...for you see, my life has been engulfed in her love and I am surrounded by things that remind me of her -- in almost every room of my house and every corner of my mind...

Take a walk with me and let me show you a few things about my Ma-ma.

First of all, in case you might be confused on how we say Ma-ma down here in the south...it's phonetically pronounced maw maw ... at first glance you might be tempted to pronounce it differently, but as my mother explained to me, it's the dash that is the clue to correct pronunciation. (grin)

As long as I can remember I've been surrounded by love. I had very loving parents and grandparents, as well as a great grandmother on my dad's side (his mother's mother) and a great grandfather on my mother's side (her mother's dad, my Ma-ma's father). If that were all it would be enough. God truly blessed me by placing me in this family.

The photo above was taken at my grandmothers when I was 5 going on 6, and by the candy jar in the photo I know this had to be taken around Christmas 1965 even though the photo was printed in the spring of 1966 because that candy jar only came out at Christmas! In fact, I have that candy jar and it continues to come out at Christmas! I also have the quilt I'm wrapped up in, it was made by my Ma-ma, and she gave it to me when she went into assisted living and then a nursing home in just the recent years. When my great aunt Luna died two years ago at the wonderful age of 105 I inherited several of her quilts - at that time I photo documented the family quilts in my possession and have them recorded in my webshot album I have other quilts that my grandmother made me that I will always cherish.

There are sooo many stories to share, but I want to share what I have around my house that reminds me of Ma-ma....something I inherited from her...show and tell! Every time we'd go visit my grandparents Ma-ma would walk us from room to room and show us anything she had new since our last visit. Little things were important to her...so in keeping with that, let's walk through my house beginning in the studio where I spend the majority of my day!

This quilt rack hangs near my longarm. If you've ever looked at my studio photos you may recognize this. What you may not be aware of is I call this my corner of faith, family and inspiration. The snow crystal block was pieced by Ma-ma's mother at the turn of the century (not 2000, think 1900!) She died at an early age so I never knew her, but I did know my Papa, he died when I was 12. The photo of the three beauties was taken in 1944...

To the left is my great aunt Effie, I have inherited a quilt or two of hers. She taught me how to embroidery and file my fingernails. I know, that sounds funny, but she bought me my first nail file and I still have it. Aunt Effie was the oldest of the three sisters. Ma-ma is in the middle, and my great aunt Stella is on the right. Don't they just look like angels! Hum...right now they are among the angels, as Ma-ma was the last of her immediate family...there were four brothers too. Anyway, this photo and the quilt block are just some of my inspiration when I come into my quilt studio...

Next there's gentle reminders of my grandmother in my kitchen/dining room. The table was my grandmother's dining room table. I inherited it when she moved into the assisted living facility a few years ago. I can remember many a family Thanksgiving dinner at that table, and especially when, as the oldest grandchild, I was able to 'move up' to the grown up table and not have to eat in the kitchen with the little cousins!

Moving on to my living room...These rocking chairs were my Ma-ma and Pa-pa's (paw paw) and were purchased prior to my mother's birth, sometime around 1934-1936. Countless hours were spent in these wonderful rocking chairs, and countless more to come. They are most comfortable. More than that, they are memorial -- I can see Ma-Ma rocking the babies of the family -- me, my sister, my three cousins, and even my two sons...if only the rocking chairs could sing the lullabies...

This is Ma-ma's kitchen table - the one we ate most of our meals on, and the 'little kids table' at Thanksgiving. I have it in my living room with a few knick-nacks inherited either from Ma-ma or Aunt Luna...

On the table I have a framed ad dated 1934 concerning the price and purchase of this table. Ma-ma was very good about documenting things (I think I inherited that trait too!)

The blue bowl was given to me several years ago by my grandmother, she particularly wanted me to have it. I'd forgotten the story but was reminded this weekend by my mother as we reminised about our family....seems Ma-ma had given it to her sister Effie, and inherited it back and wanted me to have it. In the bowl are little balls of cotton, both brown and white, that in recent years grew in my Ma-ma's flower garden. She remembered picking cotton as a child and decided she wanted her own little bushes so she nurtured them and gave everyone she knew some of her cotton. When she went into the nursing home she was very concerned about who would get her cotton bolls, I told her I would be the keeper of the cotton - how very fitting that I was a quilter who benefited from this humble plant....

Moving on to my bathroom -- The jar of sea shells was collected by my Ma-ma in Oct 1993 when my mom, dad, and sister brought her to join my little family of four at a rented beach house in Florida. Ma-ma was 81 and had never been to the Florida beaches...she picked up sea shells endlessly! We all did. I will always remember that trip! Oh, and the little jewelry box where I keep my watch and ring was also hers.

I don't think you can read it, but see the masking tape on the sea shell with the date on it? I told you, Ma-ma liked to document things! After her return home from the beach she went to a local antique store and purchased the jar and carefully arranged all the shells as well as purchased the little etched glass bowl and carefully arranged the larger shells.

This rose is on Ma-ma's dining room table in my dining room right now - I brought it home from her birthday party just a few days ago...a gentle reminder that flowers fade, but love goes on forever.

Yesterday my mom returned to me two quilts I had made my Ma-ma... The first (not pictured) was one of my very first attempts at quilting. It was Eleanor Burn's Quilt in a Day Log Cabin and just a lap size. I made this teddy bear from the left-over fabrics - I'd been given it back, again, when Ma-ma moved, and it sits in my studio. Soon the matching quilt will join it...

This quilt was made by me for my Ma-ma on her 91st birthday in 2003. I was so proud of it, I 'd just learned to meander free motion on my sewing machine and I'd just had a weekend with Linda Taylor trying my hand at the idea of being a longarm quilter. It would be two years later before I purchased my A-1 Quilting Machine. My Ma-ma loved the red, white, and blue. She was very much a proud American, having lost a brother in WWII, patriotism ran deep in her veins. She loved God, country and family.

Ma-ma was proud that I was turning out to be a quilter. She loved it when I brought my quilts for show and tell, she was very good at remembering the names of blocks such as shoe fly, monkey's wrench and others. I was so pleased that once we purchased this house and my longarm that she was able to make a trip down to see my home and my studio. If ever I had love and support I can say it's been from my family. She has meant so much to me in my life...this simple little tribute is but a drop in the bucket - only a small glimpse as to my daily reminders around my home that I have indeed been blessed and privileged to have had such a wonderful grandmother whom I fondly called Ma-ma and who will be greatly missed.

One day the circle will be unbroken and I'll join my loved ones .... yesterday at the grave side service we closed with this, one of her favorite songs...

I'll Fly Away
Albert Brumley

Some glad morning when this life is o'er
I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away
when I die, hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

When the shadows of this life have grown
I'll fly away
like a bird from prison walls have flown
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away
when I die, hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
to a land where joy will never end
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away
when I die hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away


Dede said...

I loved reading this, Karen. Isn't it wonderful to have the little things that meant so much to our grandmothers? Our life is like a quilt and our memories are the pieces bound in love.

fancystitching said...

Thanks so much for sharing the stories behind your treasures... I was able to smile (and cry) with you today. It makes me want to wander through my house and remind myself of the stories behind my treasures, also.


Martys Fiber Musings said...

What a beautiful story, so full of love. As I read your story, I was reminded of so many happy times with my grandmother. She too loved "I'll fly away" so I hummed the tune as I read your words.

yarnahoy said...

That is a beautiful quilt!