Selma was my mother’s grandmother on her father’s side. She was the one who taught my mother how to knit (it is her voice my mother is remembering in the poem I wrote back in February). She was also the quilt maker in the family, and I believe she taught my mother how to sew patches together to make quilts (as my mother has made a couple, too).
Selma was married three times, which some might say was a bit scandalous during her day. Once while visiting my grandparents, my grandfather showed me pictures from an album his mother had kept of a trip to, I am guessing, “the Cities” in Minnesota. It would have been sometimes before 1920. In those photos she looks happy and more than a bit mischievous. The two couples on the trip are giggling and posing like kids escaping to the big city for the first time ever.
It is so unfortunate that so many of us never really get to know our great-grandparents. There are so many questions I want to ask her now that I am old enough to understand that I have questions. I was lucky enough to know her for the first 10 years of my life though.
I remember that she was still a bit mischievous in that she enjoyed teaching me how to make odd noises from the back of my throat while we waited in the car for my mother. I actually think Selma’s sister, my Great-Great Aunt Dora, was with us and was saying things like, “Stop that Selma! Her mother is going to be upset.” Making odd noises was, to say the least, something I was expected not to do as a child.
I remember going to the fabric store with her to pick out material for a quilt we were going to make for me. Though, we never did make it, the blue fabric for trim and the backing and the leaves cut out from coordinating fabric sits somewhere in a box in my mother’s house.
I remember being bribed by the purchase of “Queen Elizabear” so that I would not complain about staying home with her while my parents went to work while she was visiting. I must have been about 8 or so. At the time, I didn’t really have much in common with an 86 year old who was more than a little crotchety.
I also remember watching my mother with her grandmother. I guess even though I wasn’t conscious of it, I understood that she loved her as much as I loved my grandmother. And, the funny thing is, even though those two (Selma and my grandmother, who was her daughter in law) never really got along, they were a lot alike. Private, grumpy at times, particular, impatient. Yet, women who could laugh and loved, even if those around them didn’t get to see this side too often.
A pink quilt rests atop our guest bed in our current home. My great-grandma made it for me in 1977, maybe a present for my first birthday. I think about the sense of wonder she might have had that her granddaughter had a daughter. I think about her sewing that love for my mother and by default for me into that quilt. I think about all the quilts she made for people and the rag rugs she sold. I think about her being a divorced single parent at a time when people did not divorce. I think about her healing with each stitch and with each aha moment as she put fabric together to create pieces of art left behind for us. The ones who are here because she loved my great-grandfather enough to have a son.
So it is in her memory that I felt moved to tackle patchwork this month. And these totes are a few I have created in the midst of my own aha moments, stitch by stitch…
Meet the Selma Totes…
(soon to be found in my shop, the little room, later this month)