In the past few weeks, I spent many hours preparing our Czech costumes (kroje) for an event coming up. I carefully mended, pressed, cleaned, starched and labeled each piece. One of the pieces is an elaborately embroidered white skirt with a handkerchief pinned to the waist. I unpinned the handkerchief as I carefully pressed the skirt. This particular skirt took over an hour to iron. As I finished, I pinned it to the coat hanger and hung it on a hook on the closet door so that I could attach the hankie. As I was pressing the handkerchief, I saw something that made me laugh. I hung the skirt inside/out on the hanger and didn’t even notice.
Suddenly, I was 5 years old again and sitting on a small stool at the foot of Grandma’s rocker.
|Edna Elena Victoria Hewett Nix (1900-1972)|
Before I started school I stayed with my grandmother while my parents were at work. I learned many things from Grandma during that time. She taught me that hard work is a part of life, chores are to be done before TV, a Bible is to always be close and opened often, how to make the most of what you have and not complain, how to cut a ‘switch’ from a tree when I talked back to her or slammed the screen door and that embroidery is only as good as the inside.
I was not allowed to sit and watch television all day. We watched at least one soap opera, Johnny Watkins at lunchtime and not much else. I could be wrong but I seem to recall that her favorite was Secret Storm. If I was there on the weekend, we watched Lawrence Welk. I liked the bubbles! Though even when watching her favorite soap, she did not sit idle. She had a sewing basket on the right side of her chair under a standing lamp used for light. The Secret Storm and Johnny Watkins farm report was of no interest to a five-year-old so I would sit on a very small stool made of four coffee cans covered with padding and scrap fabric (nothing went to waste at Grandma’s house) and watch as she embroidered cup towels, pillow cases, aprons and dresser scarfs. I loved the beautiful designs of beautiful ladies in their full skirts, colorful flowers and playful kittens.
As the items she made could be seen from both sides, she kept her stitches neat and showed me how the back of the design looked (almost) as good as the front. She would let me practice but my work from those days must have looked very poor compared to her fine handiwork. I remembered getting so frustrated when my thread would knot (as it often did) and I would give up. Each time, she would pick up my discarded piece, remove the knot and hand back to me. I do not remember her getting impatient or upset but she would not let me start a new piece unless I finished what I started.
This trip down memory last weekend gave me pause to think of Grandma, but after church on Sunday I thought of something else. Grandma’s guidance mirrored God’s love for us and she taught me something else with her needle and thread.
She taught me unconditional love, correction when needed, perseverance and that real beauty is determined by the inside.