Saturday, October 10, 2015

Happy Birthday!

I learned to sew when I was very young, at the feet of my mother.  She had grown up sewing out of necessity, since her family was quite poor.
I grew up sewing because I loved it.  Sewing gave me the freedom to imagine and then use my hands to create what I had imagined.  By the time I was a teenager, I was quite proficient  and was thrilled that I could hand-craft things that no one else would own.  It didn't really matter to me that crafting wasn't at all cool at the time . . . I loved it  regardless.
In addition to learning to sew clothes, I learned how to embroider, cross-stitch and needlepoint.  As my mother taught me the stitches and encouraged me to practice, I remember her telling me often that "The back of your piece should be as pretty as the front".
At the time, that seemed so absurd.  Who cared if the back of my stitching was messy with threads reaching from side to side and obscuring the design from behind?  After all, it would be hidden beneath a picture frame or a pillow backing.  And, over the years, there have been times when my desire to "get it done" have overshadowed the neatness underneath.  On the outside, things looked great, but underneath it was a jumbled mess of thread and knots.

As is often the case, it wasn't until many years later that I realized my mama's wisdom in many things she taught me.  In this case, I have begun to recognize the parallel between her sewing method and her life in general.  You see, my mama was one of those people that people admired.   Not because she was beautiful and worldly . . . although I think certainly think she was very beautiful.  Not because she owned beautiful things . . . she came from very humble roots and worked hard for everything she had.  Not even because she always had beautiful words for every situation . . . she struggled with shyness and speaking in front of others.

No, I think that one of the most wonderful things about my mama was the fact that her "back side was just as pretty as the front".   Not only was she well-versed in scripture and the "golden rule", but she practiced those things in every aspect of her life.   She taught us to look beyond appearances and to see the person inside and to help others by any means that we were able.  While she taught Bible studies and was gentle and kind to those at church, she put those things into practice at home and in the community. She saw the beauty in nature and encouraged us to notice the spots on a ladybug and the feathers on a bird.

Was she perfect?   Indeed not.   Who is?

But, there were no "hidden skeletons" in a closet somewhere.   She would openly talk about the struggles of raising a son with special needs or growing up poor or living far away from her family, yet remind us of the blessings found in each of those situations.
Today would have been my mama's 86th birthday.  While she passed away thirteen years ago, she faced her battle with ovarian cancer with honesty, grace and strength.
I still miss her very much and sometimes wish to be able to share some secret or news with her.   I wish that she could see me happily married and to meet her great-grandchildren. Mostly, though, I am so very grateful for the life that she lived and for the example she set for me and my brothers and for our children.   Happy Birthday, Mama!!

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Callie said...

Beautiful tribute! Happy birthday, Momo!

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