In the vein of 'begin as you mean to go on' I got the next warp beamed this morning. This warp has a firm deadline and what with everything going on right now I need to work on it at least a little every day. Once the loom is set up it should not take too long to weave off, then wet finishing, including a good hard press, hemming, finishing press. Ordinarily I could whap an 11 meter long warp off in a couple days, but I'm out of practice, out of shape and dealing with life - and death. My goal is to work in the studio an hour a day. I may not make it every day because the coming week is fraught with appointments - both personal and relating to mom.
My cousin came to visit today and we talked about the impact mom's death has had on the family. She was the last of her generation and with her goes much of the family history and stories that she remembered and was all too willing to share.
Mom was a do-er, a fix-er, a problem solver. Frequently when family members ran afoul of problems, be they health, legal, emotional, mom would pick up the phone and figure out how to fix the situation. Dealing with various family crisis made her stronger than people knew. She wanted people to be happy and worked tirelessly, finding medical help, translating from French to English and back for family members whose English wasn't great, even including in court on several occasions.
She had more education than most of the family, dropping out of school in Grade 8, was fluent in two languages, wasn't afraid to ask questions. But when I was 16, she went back to school and got a certificate in pre-school education. She worked hard and sweated bullets to become qualified, eventually setting up her own pre-school.
Mom was talented with her hands, too. She supplemented the family income in many ways, by working outside the home, and in it. When my brother was born he was very ill so she couldn't work outside the home and instead babysat, baked and decorated cakes, knitted for a local shop, permed family members hair (yes, I had a 'poodle' cut at one point - I AM that old). She sewed clothing for all of us, and before tv entered our home there were many nights sitting around the table hooking rugs. Mom still has a footstool with a hooked top that we made.
I begged to learn how to knit and she taught me when I was 5 or 6. She would cast on for me until I got old enough and had enough manual dexterity to learn how to do it for myself. When I was a little older I had a string of episodes of tonsillitis and she taught me to embroider as a way to quietly pass the time in bed. At age 12 she showed me how to sew and for many years if I wanted something 'new' I would buy the fabric and make it for myself.
While I took ballet lessons she sewed not only my costumes but a friends, drove me to classes when the weather was inclement, helped make paper 'carnations' to decorate the vehicles for the ballet students in the parades, drove me and my friend to rehearsals and performances.
She and dad were adamant that my brother and I get an education. They wanted us to go to university, but it was not meant to be. But they instilled in us a love of reading and learning. I took to it faster than my brother, but even he came to the love of reading as a teenager.
Mom and I had our differences, but she showed me how to be a strong woman, able to take care of things and others. When she would shake her finger at me, wondering where on earth I got my stubbornness, I had to press my lips firmly shut or I would have been unable to stop from asking her if she had looked in a mirror recently!
As my cousin and I talked about mom this morning, I told him that now she was gone it would be up to us to become the family 'historians', to keep the stories alive.
Now that I am officially an orphan, it is time to assume the mantel of mentor...