Sunday, February 2, 2020


I was thirteen
when she died.
I know I knew her but I'm sad,
 because I didn't know her enough.

Grandma, top left in the dark. 
That's me in the middle.
I couldn't find another picture of
us together. 
There is not a single day that goes by without me thinking about her.  About the hot rolls she made and how she'd pinch the dough off in balls between her thumb and forefinger.  About the toaster she had that sat on a little red wooden stool in her kitchen and could toast SIX pieces of bread at the same time!  About the polyster blouses that buttoned up the front, well worn, with bold patterns. About the twinkle in her eye as she would throw her head back and laugh, a deep, whole body laugh that came from the depths of her soul.  About the meringue on her coconut cream pie that was at least a foot tall every time!  About her toes that were permanently crossed so she had to wear open toe sandles and the huge corns on her hard working feet. But most of all I think about the person she was, the magic that made her well, her.

Grandma was the "driver" in the family.  When I was a kid they would drive from Pocasset all the way to Weatherford to watch my brother play football, Grandma always behind the wheel of what I remember as a big yellow car!  She always had a headscarf and a pocket full of tissues; she was usually bringing something delicious to eat along with her.  I don't remember how old I was when she gave me a quilt she had made. It wasn't fancy and pieced but it was made with love.  The underside fabric was simply an off white cotton muslin and the top was printed-it looked like square pinwheels.  Rather than being quilted, it was tied with a heavy yarn.  My brother had one, my sister had one, my mom had one but mine was all mine.  Being the youngest in a penny pinching family during the early 70's having something that belonged just to me felt important!  (Kind of like the time I got to go by myself and spend the night with them, Grandma and Grandpa took me to Dairy Queen  in Chickasha.  I had french fries, a footloong chili cheese dog, a soda and of course a dipped ice cream cone!! I still remember the bright red slanted roof, the windows all around and how special it was to eat out at a restaurant!!)

My mom was born in 1937, a few years ago I took her on a "cemetery" tour.  We drove through the areas she had lived as a child and visited the graves of relatives long gone.  She told me about my Grandpa tending fields where straw was being grown for brooms, other fields where she had picked bowls of cotten until her fingers bled as a kid, the area by the river where they lived when she was born.  She wove stories together that day, so many stories!  One chord that rang through all her stories was one I had heard my entire life Grandma knew how she to make something from nothing.  She was one of the farm wives who turned feed sacks into clothing for her children, she knew how to stretch the food when times were hard so no ones belly went hungry.  She worked hard on the farm right alongside Grandpa and their kids.

Flash forward to 2012, my parents moved to our neighborhood.  Mom was spending more and more time with her sewing and embroidery machines.  A dear friend gave her a small quilt, when she showed it to Handsome, his response was "when are you making me one?"  She made him one all right, she made him a California King!!!  It was incredible.  After that, she was on fire and made quilts for all of her grandkids, great grandkids and six P.E.O. quilts!! In 2018, a dear friend was diagnosed with a stage IV glioblastoma-I collected fabric from our mutual friends because Mom said she'd make a quilt for "T."  What I didn't realize was that I would get to do all the cutting!!!  Like a strike from lightening bolt, I felt a connection.  I needed to quilt.

I've been in love with Cathedral window quilts for years!  Feeling the need to quilt but not really having a space to quilt or the time to spend cutting, piecing and sewing at a machine. I began to research how to make Cathedral windows, by handsewing.  In June, I finally made the decision to use black Moda grunge fabric for the window panes and scraps from Mom's quilts for the stained glass.  I currently have 60+ squares completed BY HAND.  I've begun machine sewing four squares together.  I'm currently "holding" on it until I get scraps.  But I've got it in writing that my goal is to have a throw size quilt completed from them by December!!

As fate would have it, my friend Shirley had a flat tire on the day of her quilt guild meeting.  The store was out of her size tire so she asked if I'd drive her.  Susan R Michael was the speaker that evening and she brought with her some of her work.  It was incredible (click on her name, go look, specifically "Circular Infinity").  The ladies in the guild were so nice, they have a "show & tell" time and their work was simply inspiring.  I knew that was where I was supposed to be!

Handsome got me a great sewing machine for my 50th birthday.  The ladies at Rogers Sewing Center were ah-mazing, Queen Ellen is happy in our home! (EverSewn Sparrow QE) On January 21st, I went to quilt guild without Shirley (she'd had surgery the week before) and I made a new friend.  I shared my goals with her.  As we said goodnight at the end of the meetings she looked at her watch and remarked, "It's early, you could go home and get your machine out of the box!"  Even with the desire, I hadn't taken the time to get it out of the box and set up to sew.  I went home and got "Queen Ellen" all ready to go!  On Thursday during Daisy's puppy school, I went to JoAnn's and got fat quarters so I could get started on The Ultimate Beginner Quilt!! I'm working on block six today!

Grandma's name on her birth certificate was Roxie Anna Hamit.  Everyone called her Jackie but I can remember some even calling her Jack. I have no idea why.  It's one of the questions I would ask her if I knew her...enough. With every cut, every piece, every stitch I feel her nearby and that is somehow enough.  This afternoon, I pulled out my quilt she made me as a kid.  It was a little more tattered around the edges but the sight of it made me smile throw my head back and laugh with Grandma's gleem in my eye.  You see while she didn't piece my quilt on the outside, there is a treasure hidden underneath and I can see it was a loved old quilt that had been done by hand.  Something from nothing. Well played, Grandma!