Monday, March 15, 2010

Coffe Talk: Remembering my Grandmother


Last week was another flare up of my carpal tunnel so I had to lay off the computer for a few days. I wrote alot of posts and paperwork a few days before the flare up so I should have seen it coming. Since my work is focused on using my hands and arms (sign language interpreting, making beads), it's really easy to do too much and not realize it.


While away from the computer, I received another goody package from the good folks at Rings n Things. (Here's my disclaimer.)


This one is very "Day of the Dead" - a holiday celebrated in Mexico and in the Southwest in November.  Relatives hold celebrations in cemetaries to honor their ancestors. It seems this tradition is particular to Mexico yet I remember growing up with a similar, more quiet celebration around Memorial Day.

Each year on Memorial Day, my family would load up the car with bright red geraniums and trowels and make the rounds to the cemetaries where our great grandparents were buried. My mother's family in one local town and my father's family in another. We would hear stories of our families and run through the cemetary reading the headstones of others. We were always careful not to walk directly on a grave but on the grass paths made by the caretakers.  My mother would pull weeds and old grass from around the headstone of her mother and plant fresh red geraniums near grandmother's name. My grandmother was 86 when she died and although I was about 4 or 5 at the time, I remember her wizen face and white/gray hair.  She seemed very old and stern to my 4 year old self. I couldn't imagine her being anything but old.

A few years ago, while visiting my mother on the family farm, I asked if I could have something - an old portrait of her mother in it's original frame and glass. It was taken before Grandmother was married at age 14.


The woman I thought was wizen and stern is forever young in this portrait. I feel like I see something of her spirit. My mother tells me she was quite a gardener and every year she'd plant something she'd never planted before. Apparently, Grandmother planted spaghetti squash before anyone knew what it was! I'm reminded of the bright red geraniums my mother chose to plant every Memorial Day - such a vibrant color is befitting an adventuresome spirit like her mother.  When I plant something I've never planted before in my garden or see the vibrancy of a red geranium, I'm reminded of the young woman my grandmother once was and the adventuresome spirit she had.
I'd like to make a remembrance piece for her using red and something impish. That's why I'm gravitating towards using the smiling and hat wearing calaveras charms from the lastest R&T goody bag - even though it isn't November 1st, my family's Memorial Day Celebration is fast approaching.

Is there a vibrant spirit in your family tree? Did your family have a similar "Day of Remembrance?"

5 comments:

angelinabeadalina said...

The hat wearing calaveras would most likely have gotten a giggle from that fourteen year old :-) I think the splash of red with them will be just perfect for remembrance.

P.S. My mother's cousins and families actually bring picnic lunches along with the flowers. I don't remember ever being home for one of those get-togethers, but I explored the cemeteries plenty of times when I was a kid.

mairedodd said...

my family tree is filled with vibrant spirits... i am pretty grateful... funny how you mentioned the red geraniums in the cemetary... we used to do the same thing... they have such a distinct scent - it's amazing how many years you can jump with a memory...
when one is married and has such responsibility early on, i would imagine it would create a rather serious disposition...
i think your idea for your piece sounds great... and i love your red and black work... make sure you show when it's done...
and feel better...

maryharding said...

Wonderful post Cindy. Hope you feel better soon. I have great memories of a grandfather I never knew who made jewelry,and handbound leather books. Although I never knew him, he influenced me to think about making art when I was a child. I thought it must be my destiny since I also had a grandmother on the other side of the family that also was an artist. But thinking back on it there were many relatives who were not artists, and I didn't get influenced by them at all.

SummersStudio said...

Lovely memories of honouring your gramma and others. We did similar. I have a photo of my gramma climbing the porch post in white Sunday dress. It' quite coy and quite unlike the serious gramma I remember. It's good to think of them as young I think.

KimberlyRies said...

I love all those Day of the Dead charms you received from Rings N Things. What a special photo you have of your grandmother!