Monday, February 07, 2011

(grand)mama monday: scarves, aprons and hankies!

Sometimes, in order to understand motherhood, it's helpful to go back a generation.  To grandmamas.

I grew up quite close to my mother, who became a sister-mom to me in later years, in a way that many girls-with-only-brothers do.  Other than mom, and Dodie, I had few other close female relatives.  My paternal grandparents (along with an uncle and aunt) lived in Halifax and visited annually, another uncle and aunt, along with their kids - my first cousins - lived in London, Ontario and we didn't grow up celebrating birthdays, holidays and occasional for-no-other-reason-than-we-haven't-eaten-together-in-a-while get togethers like Andrew's Italian family.

So boys were my main point of social contact.  Boys were great.  They were funny.  They liked to build things with Lego*.  They were uncomplicated.  Well, until I hit puberty (ie: my 20s) and then boys became very complicated.  But I digress.  My Sistas From Otha Mistas will attest to my initial awkwardness towards a girl until I feel like I can jump in to girlfriendship without falling flat on my face, as with double-Dutch.  Which I was also crap at.

* Lego is, and forever will be, an uncountable noun.  Like money, cutlery or hair.  You do not "brush your hairs".  You do not "play with your Legos".  If you say this, I reserve the right to punch you.

Incidentally, this may be why I have only pictured having boys.  When I dream about a baby, it's always a baby boy.  When I think about designing about a baby's room, I think blues and greens and trains and Lego.

However, my mother's mother - grandma Grace - and I were close until her death in 1988.  And my memories with her were decidedly girly.

I am the eldest of my cousins and was eight when grandma passed away, which meant that I was lucky to have spent the most number of years with her.  But, at age eight, I didn't fully understand how much we had in common or, indeed, how much we would have in common as I matured.

Last week, I acquired a tote bag of her old things and went through it delicately, neatly, documenting each item like an archeological discovery.  The contents of the bag were scraps of my own DNA, preserved for over 20 years.

First the scarves, which (from what I can surmise) are vintage from the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Detail of one scarf.  Who puts coral, mint green, khaki and azure blue together anymore?

What surprised me was the colour scheme.  Grandma and I had the same "seasonal colour" (does anyone go by this anymore?), Spring, and, if these scarves are any indication, we also shared the same taste in patterns and tones.

Then the aprons!


Finally the hankies.  O, the hankies...

One was delicately monogrammed with an "L", for Lois: my little mom's little hanky.

As I took the last photo and stared at the hankies - fine linen, lace, floral-patterned, embellished, embroidered in pinks, lilacs and spring greens - I thought about my mom's little hanky, and her mom's choice in hankies, and how much I adored them both.  I thought to myself, I'd like to pass these hankies on and tastes on.  I might even like to pass them on to a little girl.

Solomon crept up to comfort me and I took a decorative hanky to use.  A hanky that, as I brought it to my eyes, still smelled of grandma's perfume.  I felt as consoled as if grandma had offered it to me herself.  A mother who, as only mothers can, understood what it was like to wait for motherhood.

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