Saturday, February 17, 2007

Thing the Third

Carrie has a great picture up on Flickr of a quilt her grandma made her when she was thirteen. Her grandma hates to sew, so the quilt is a special one.

This reminds me of something, which I will call Thing the Third, since it is another thing you did not know about me.

I have a glory box, given to me by my grandma. It is at my brother's house, in New Zealand. That's what she called it, when she gave it to me. A glory box. I was sixteen. I have always been a little embarrassed about this, but I realize now I have no reason to be.

I am also no longer embarrassed about my glory box being full of doilies.

My grandma was an exceptionally keen lace-maker. She tatted and also crocheted. She especially liked to make things for me, and this is why I have a huge collection of doilies (both tatted and crocheted) that she made for me.

I do not know why she singled me out for quite so many doilies. I'm sure my older sisters never got quite so many, but perhaps she thought I was the sort of person who needed doilies. Every time she gave one to me, over a period of years when I was a child, I would admire it, because they were beautiful and insanely delicate, and because she had taught me how to crochet and I knew how much work went into each one and could not IMAGINE sitting still for that long; it was one of those miracle Grandma things. Then I would put it away, carefully wrapped in tissue paper.

As the years went by I still thought they were beautiful, but could not imagine ever having a lifestyle where doilies would fit in. I never told Grandma this, though, and she continued to give them to me on a regular basis. I wasn't quite sure what to do with them, so I kept putting them away carefully. When she also gave me the glory box, I put all the doilies into that. And when I left home, I left the box at my brother's house.

And there it stayed, a sad symbol of the sort of person my grandma had hoped I would become. I don't think I really understood that at the time, though. I just thought it was the sort of things very old grandmas did. It always seemed to me that my grandma was from another world, and in a way she was. She was born at the end of the 19th century, and was in her seventies by the time I was born. She was always old, as far as I was concerned, and her way of thinking was mysterious to me. I didn't expect to understand her, although I loved her dearly.

The doilies have languished at my brother's house ever since I left home, still carefully wrapped in tissue paper even though I told my sister-in-law she could use them if she wanted to. I guess she is not a doily person either. Most of them are a lovely sort of antique-looking ecru, but the ones Grandma made when she was nearing the end of her life are a lurid pink. The stitching is still delicate and beautiful, but the colour is almost frightening. There are not so many of those.

Each doily represents many long hours of patient work.

My grandma died when she was 94, about 20 years ago. I had forgotten about the doilies until just now when I was looking at Carrie's pictures. The picture of the quilt, and Carrie's story about it, made me think.

Doilies do not in any way fit into a Japanese home, but I adored my grandma, and I have now decided that ONE DAY I will have a doily lifestyle. I do not care who laughs at me, or how ill the pink makes people feel. They will have to get over it. Every stitch in those doilies was made with love, by my own little ancient grandma, especially for me.

If I'm going to be completely honest, though, I sort of wish my grandma had been a quilter.

6 comments:

Radioactive Jam said...

I suppose there's not much chance you (or someone) could turn the doilies into a quilt?

And I'm interested in seeing a picture of the "lurid pink." No hurry; someday will be fine.

Pkchukiss said...

Oh, you should see the Pikachu sitting in my room! He's all wrapped up, since I cannot think of a way to clean him if I ever take him out of the plastic wrapping.

Potentilla said...

Are you sure it was really FOR YOU, and that she was not just someone who enjoyed making doilies and then needed something plausible to do with them? Sorry if that sounds too cynical.

Badaunt said...

I think it was a bit of each. In our church there were a lot of what you might call Doily People, and she had a number of granddaughters (besides us) so she did have options. And she occasionally gave one to someone else, but I got the bulk of them so I like to think she loved me BEST. :-)

(Or maybe it was just that I was there, in the house, and she wanted to get rid of them quickly.)

Badaunt said...

Oh, and RaJ? The doilies are in NZ, so I cannot photograph them until I visit again, but if you imagine a really cheap pair of dentures, the pink is sort of like the pink of the fake gums. Only deeper and brighter.

Carrie said...

That is such a sweet story. What does one do with a doily, though?