My Clara Faye. My grandmother. My Grammar-Rock.
I had a special kind of relationship with my grandma, one that cannot easily be explained here. Typed words scrawled across the screen in Helvetica just seems so crude. Our bond was much more magical than that.
She taught me how to fly like Peter Pan. She taught me that the only appropriate way to eat Cheerios was covered in sugar. She taught me the importance of church, and taught me that it is okay to ditch if you get to the parking lot and realize you've forgotten to put on your skirt (which she did on more than one occasion!) She taught me to sing. To paint. To sew. She taught me two scoops are always better than one when it comes to pistachio ice cream and she taught me the value of black and white films. She was my favorite person in the whole wide world.
I remember when she taught me to sew. I was the lead in a school play and needed a costume. I hadn't ever really seen her sew before that moment. It was all so new to me and I'm sure I was much more of a hinderance than a help in those days. She was patient with me, showing me how to read a pattern and lay the fabric just right. She had me try on a newspaper mock-up of the costume and I threaded the needle for her failing eyes. She made me a few more costumes over the years and a few dresses that this tomboy hated to wear in public, but secretly adored. I remember I would put them on and twirl around my room, usually tripping over my soccer cleats and stinky locker room junk. I loved the novelty daisy print and gold rick rack trim, but I would never admit it! I was heart broken when I outgrew the dresses and my mom gave them away.
We didn't land on sewing for too long. My Grammar was an artist and she moved on quickly from one medium to the next. She decoupaged. She painted ceramics. She made porcelain dolls. And always she let me join her, instructing me on the appropriate way to hold my brush or how to get the perfect consistency of stain to fill into the cracks of the piece.
In December 2006, she was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. She had a steady decline from there. She yellowed. She withered. My beautiful, strong Grammar was suddenly not. She moved in with my parents and I quit my job to take her to chemo and radiation treatments. She bought me a purple sequined hat and I wore it. Always. I didn't care what people thought of my outrageous get-up because it made her happy. We spent a lot of time together in those last days, which ended up being more than we thought we'd have. She died August 13, 2007, a whole 8 months after her first diagnosis. It was a wonderful gift to have her with us for so long, especially when fighting such a terrible, monster of a disease.
When Brent and I found out we were pregnant with a little girl, there was no question: Her name would be Clara. Clara Mae. My sweet little Clara Mae. Grammar would have loved to kiss her cheeks and make her popcorn and stay up tickling her back until she fell asleep, but Grammar was gone long before Miss Maze was even THOUGHT of.
I miss my Grammar immensely, but on April 12th, ever year, I like to remember how much fun she was; drudge up old memories of our times together lest they disappear.
I hope you don't mind that I shared.
After she died, I asked Brent to buy me a sewing machine. I struggled trying to remember how to thread the stupid thing, how to make it stop going SO FAST, how to keep my fingers out from underneath the little silver needle of death! My MIL helped me a lot in those early days as I relearned an old skill that I had never really taken the time to master. I began sewing with a goal in mind: Comfort Quilters. The group started up just after Grammar's death. I would have loved to make a quilt for her with words of encouragement scripted onto each block. Would have loved for her to have something special to keep her warm when those doctors shot the ice cold chemo through her veins, quite literally chilling her to the bone.
I hate cancer. It's a worthless, pointless, terrible monster. I know I can't cure it. I know I have the emotional depth of a goldfish so I know I'm not a good counselor. But I know I can sew, and while it's not much, it's my only tangible skill. So I sew. I quilt. I make blankets that keep all the beautiful, courageous people fighting cancer warm while they get infused with their superhuman strength serum! I let them know they are not alone in the only way I know how. I let them know they are loved.
This post has taken a very different turn from my original idea, but I kind of like where it ended up.
Thank you to everyone who has sent your positive vibes, kind thoughts and prayers to Caleb and Cooper. Thank you to everyone who has donated to Comfort Quilters. Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and actually read all the way down to the end of this post written about someone you will never meet.
I love you all!
And, for those of you interested in what I do with Comfort Quilters, I will be sharing ways you can get involved and help within the next couple months, so keep an eye out.
Now, I'm off to enjoy this beautiful spring day with my Clara Mae. I hope you go outside and enjoy it too!