• Lisa

Summer Fun with Grandma

My brother (8), and I (7), ready for a summer adventure.

My father was in the military. We regularly moved from base to base. Dad was amazing. He would turn these cross country treks into fun summer vacations. At some point we would arrive at my grandparents house.

They were German emigrants who settled in a sizable Midwestern city. Dad's whole family was there, but I was mostly interested in one person, my grandma R. On our visits, Grandma R was all mine, or I was all her's depending on your point of view.

She was an avid gardener with a beautiful yard. She grew dahlias the size of dinner plates. On nightly walks around the neighborhood R wore a bib apron with big pockets and carried a small pair of scissors. If she saw a plant she liked she would cut a little snip, and drop it in a pocket. Back home these little snips would be rooted or grafted, eventually to become part of her horticultural collection. I don't wear an apron or take scissors on my morning walks, but occasionally if no one is looking I do take a little snippet.

Grandma R taught me the “needlecraft arts” I still practice today. My mother tried to teach me some of these skills, but she was left-handed and I am right-handed. Lessons usually ended with both of us very frustrated. I'm sure you can imagine...

I learned to embroider the way the nuns taught R when she was a girl. The work looked the same front and back and there were no knots. In the afternoons on the big front porch we happily embroidered tea towels and pillow cases together. Can't say I kept that up as an adult, but in high school I did make a little money embroidering jean jackets and bell bottoms.

R also taught me to knit and crochet. As you know I still do that today. Grandma and I knitted and crocheted outfits for my Barbie doll and made double crochet necklaces festooned with pom-poms and tassels. She showed me the basics and convinced me nothing was too difficult to try. Still true.

Grandma was also a forward thinking woman. She gave me math and English workbooks instead of coloring books. She told me it was important to be as smart or smarter than the boys. An educated woman could stand on her own. That was still a fairly new idea to many in the 1960's.

Grandma R lived a long happy life, and was pretty spunky right up to the end. She was a force of nature, and a truly delightful person. She wasn't an educated woman, but she was an amazing teacher. I have her laugh and her hips, and all those skills she taught me so many years ago.

For ages interest in needlecrafts lagged. Now they are more popular than ever, and not just for women. Everyone is knitting and crocheting, or wants to learn how.

And...recently a friend told me she took a snip from a plant in a greenhouse when no one was looking. She was rooting it at home. Somewhere R is smiling.

Learn something new this summer from someone you love,


July 1, 2020

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