I really have no idea how old this needlepoint pillow is...I found it in my mother's home after she died. She lived in her childhood home ---where I have many fond memories of visiting my extraordinary Grandma almost weekly throughout my childhood.
My Gram (as I called her) had dining room chairs with identical needlepoint seats--so I just assumed she also made this small pillow---was it a sampler for the chairs? or an after thought made to use up left over yarn? or did she even make all the needlepoint chair seat covers? maybe someone else made them--although family lore attributed them to Gram--so I suspect she did make them. There were at least 8 of these chairs--what a project! I wonder how long it took her to stitch 8 chair covers?
I keep this pillow on my bed because it reminds me of Gram---a very special Grandma who taught me the Golden Rule by embodying it herself in her daily life. My Gram died when I was in my 20's--and in all that time I never heard her make one negative comment about another human--not even politicians.
Not that she was one of those impossibly cheerful women---when my grandfather died I saw her cry for the first time; I remember feeling very sad for her (I was 11)---but really I had no idea then how devastating it must be to loose life long partner. Looking back now I can see she was sad for most of that year, but soon she adjusted to living in the big old house by herself. I stopped almost every day to see her on my way home from school and she ALWAYS had homemade cookies in the cookie jar in the kitchen--a Grandma who never ran out hugs and cookies---she was that kind of Grandma.
Funny how this old pillow can remind me of the smells and feel of her house, the happy times eating cookies and milk while she read me fairy tales from her 12 book series of MY BOOKHOUSE. I always felt safe at her house and loved unconditionally---something all children should feel, but sadly lacking in my parental home.
When I moved away from home at age seventeen I was terribly homesick, but Gram wrote me a long newsy letter with all the family gossip once a week. Those letters became a lifeline for me--I always wondered if she knew that (now I'm sure she did). I also wondered if she wished someone had written her such letters after she traveled to Alaska as a young woman---so far way from her family and the Wisconsin one room schoolhouse where she taught school.
Gram wasn't a feminist or political at all---in fact once in my teens I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald and asked Gram if she had been a flapper---and she became quite indignant---but she could bluff anyone at poker and she taught me to knit (for which I am eternally grateful). She was adventuresome and loved the Alaskan outdoors, sports fishing, and hiking with her friends and husband.
We also spent many a happy afternoon playing Canasta at her kitchen table. I credit her with my love of card playing and all types of fiber arts....including sewing, embroidery, and knitting. I can only hope that I can be as good a Grandma to my grandsons as she was for her seven grandchildren.
"If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first. " ~Lois Wyse
I am an artist who was born and grew up in Alaska, as did my mother--my grandfather was a gold miner. I am recently returned from serving in the US Peace Corps as a volunteer on the Island of Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean. Some of the tasks I did as a volunteer : I taught art at a primary school, helped the school with development projects, volunteered with a youth group, and volunteered helping to organize and produce a local literary festival. I also worked for over 20 years on commercial fishing boats in Alaskan waters and lived for over 18 years in the Alaskan "bush" with no electricity and no cars. Alaska has shaped my view of life and culture, but so has raising two daughters, a life of making art in many mediums, and owning my own Used and Rare Bookstore. I guess I am somewhat of a vagabond who has done many things in my life--deckhand on a fishing boat, bookseller, nanny, chef,
administrative assistant in a college
dean's office,mom (that is a job!) but I always come back to artist.
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