Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Gramma Taylor's maple leaf quilt
Ever notice how family life can be complicated? Well, my life is not any different than most people's in that respect but I like to think it is complicated in a positive way. For instance, I am one of those lucky people to have two mothers who both love me and I love them both very much. With having multiple mothers comes multiple other relatives and this post is about my Gramma Emma Darlene Taylor who became mine when my dad married my Mom, Marian Louise.
I had a very special relationship with Gramma Taylor for a variety of reasons. First off, I acquired her when I was almost four so I was aware that I was getting new grandparents. This is not the case of most kids whose grandparents always were around so you kinda took them for granted as permanent fixtures! Gramma Taylor always looked like a Gramma when I knew her and she looked the same at 40 as she did 80 so I guess that's a good thing if you are 80, but not so hot if you are 40! She always wore sensible shoes and she was a sewer!
When my sister Bev and I would get the usual childhood illnesses - mumps, measles, chicken pox - we got shipped to Gramma Taylor's house for the duration so that my baby sister, Denise, did not catch whatever we had brought home from our peers at school. We even went to Gramma's when we had bad colds and she was a great believer in VICKS VAPORUB. She would smear it all over our chests and throats and our chapped little noses. She even had us swallow a gob of it. Yuck!
We had the best Christmases at Gramma Taylor's house - lots of aunts, uncles and cousins and of course, Grampa whose words to us grandkids were "rub my feet" or "I'm not sleeping, I'm just resting my eyes." Grampa worked his whole life on the Rock Island Lines Railroad and in his retirement, collected junk, fixed it up and sold things at a twice a year yard sale. Bicycles, lawn mowers, chairs, you name it, he fixed it. He also was a champion tomato grower!
So, once I was sewing myself, and it was my mom Marian who taught me, I started making my own clothes, even my prom dress in the old picture here of my first husband Mark and I. I made my wedding dress for that marriage and all of my bridesmaids' gowns (they were really ugly, all of the dresses - think Little House on the Prairie). I made my sister Bev's bridesmaids dresses and my sister Denise's bridesmaids' dresses and her veil. I was a busy little beaver. I made clothes for my kids as well. Sometimes matching outfits.... which they will never forgive me for.
But somewhere along the way, I quit making clothes and started on quilts. Gramma Taylor made quilts too, mostly as donations through her church ladies group. When I would finish a quilt, the first person I wanted to share it with was Gramma Taylor. Gramma's quilts were machine pieced and hand quilted. They were lovely and she always showed them to me as well. The last quilt I showed her was one I made for my friend Nancy's 25th wedding anniversary. Gramma said to me, "I wish I could create the quilts you do." I was so stunned. I thought hers were much better than mine!
Mom had three of her mother's quilts which she received when Gramma died sometime in the 90's. When Mom and Dad moved into a retirement community in May 2008, they needed to downsize and I received one of my Gramma Taylor's quilts, this Maple Leaf which I treasure greatly and place on our bed every fall.
One of my Gramma Taylor's favorite expressions to say when we grandkids did something stupid or silly was, "You're Dutch!" I remember hearing her say this once and I was so eager to fit into this newly acquired family of mine, I said to her, "I'm Dutch too!" Gramma looked right at me and said, "No, you're not Dutch." To this day, I do not know what she meant by this reply. Was the family Dutch by ancestry and being of German/English/Scottish heritage, she was correcting me? Did she mean I was not silly or stupid? Did she mean I was not one of hers (this I sincerely doubt as I KNEW my Gramma Taylor loved me very much!) Gramma was not too long on words so maybe she was telling me in her own abbreviated way to be myself, not what everyone else around me was or what I thought I needed to be to fit it. I like that explanation best!
Thank you, Gramma. I love you and always think of you when I am making a quilt, your hands always busy. And I sure wish I had your homemade hot fudge sauce recipe!