We collect the stories given and weave them into our own
Once strong and work worn hands, now frail, trembling with knitting needle between weary fingers.
A smile rarely seen, but a steady woman of days gone by, the old eyes now watching a world slip by outside her window. A soul I learned to be a secret, artistic place - forgotten by the years of life and hard work.
Though she will never admit it, I learned where my mother found her wild, creative self. My mother likes to think she is the exact opposite of her own matriarch, and in every way that counts, she is. But there is one way in which she is the mirror, and I hers.
My Grandmother was a resourceful, ever determined woman of toil and labour. Yet, an artist. I grieve that this is only now being seen, hidden masterpieces overlooked in dreary monotony. There is an art in everything she does, in everything she has ever done. I am always finding something new this world brings forth, only to find Grandma has already made it, long ago.
Now, as I watch my Grandmother fade before me, as many have said before, nothing but a shadow of her former self, I have learned to look closer at her value and all I have been privileged to glean from this individual.
Her home is filled with passions I don't think she even realized she had. My Grandmother is a difficult harsh woman, who saw art in herself as foolish. But I think now I see a gentle, vibrant soul under it all, but set aside to serve those around her.
What this woman has taught me, will follow me my entire life - it won't matter where I go, for as I watch the world around me, I now see glimpses of her and have come to understand something invaluable.
My hands, like that of my mothers and Grandmothers are rough and work worn - though not yet as callused. But there is a serenity of spirit in each of us found in one, magical place.
In the place of art and creation.
There is a tin box, painted to its fullest with golden retriever puppies and red trim, full to brimming with Embroider Cotton handed over to my young, rough hands with a gentle smile. There was a plan for them you see, one which has long been forgotten, but as I eagerly sort through the colours, many with labels so old and worn, bought and forgotten fro countless years, I find a delightful treasure.
With busy hands and full mind I set to work, selecting with care Crochet thread, to be woven into intricate flowers with a crochet hook so small even I can barely see it, to be put together with precious stones and crystal as delicate, floral jewelry for Farmer's Markets, I now see a skill given to me - passed down from one generation to the next.
A half-finished, heavy sweater is lain aside for long winter nights, sitting in a basket, just as my grandmother sets her wool and her project in a shallow, fading grey whicker one by her settee. My mother and I have her habit of cluttered corners full of ideas.
With vivid colours circling my head I set to work, carefully cutting straight- precise edges on hand painted birthday cards, the one artistic hobby I refuse to think of in monetary terms. I can lose myself for hours in art that I know won't be very good, but which I love deeply for the childishness of it. The love of colour and the natural world around me, from that wild, untameable soul of my mother, to be captured in the minute detail of ink and water-colour.
As I step outside each morning, barefoot if it is warm enough and head around the house to observe and trim my Rose bushes, I see now, as I carefully cut away the dead blossoms and blight, this was something given to me as well - this love of growing things that are beautiful and vibrant.
I cut, with deep contentment, long Lavender stalks, and fragrant mint, Lemon Balm and Roses, to let dry in the sun for tea.
I am a collection of stories, most of them my own, but many, oh how many have been carefully, intentionally sown within my very bones by women I have watched and mimicked through childhood, flourishing as my own story unfolds, collecting oddities from all around.
My hands clumsily work the thread, carefully and oh so slowly, I watch a tangle of string become something useful and beautiful - made by my own care and knowledge gained.
I see now I have yet to glean more - but I do not know the time I have - I never will. Oh to have these understandings as a child, a lament echoed by many, to take the time and listen carefully as elders plant the ideas of new generations.
I weave each petal and I listen carefully, to the stories of days I will never be apart of, yet seem like yesterday. As I carefully tie the loose ends, pulling secure the Sakura Blossom I watch my hands and wonder if one day, someone will see them and see a life of stories and a wealth of knowledge.
And with care, I pick up that treasure found in the old tin box, and with a satisfying snip the threads fall away. I set down the pair of small, metal sowing scissors and lift my finished creation to my eyes - There is a lopsided petal, but that is nothing new, and I understand, though barely, that I am a collection of stories, with an introduction from those who came before me.
With care I place the crystal in the centre and attach my flower to a silver hook. There will be droplets of freshwater pearls, to hang delicately from the ear. This one I will call Johnny Jump up, for its vibrant yellow and purple petals remind me of the grumpy faced pansy and I set the earring against a card, to one day be enjoyed and loved by someone else.
I pick up my scissors and with a small smile, as I realize and understand this new meaning they hold, I place them on my bedside table, where they remain until my next project. They have already seen a life of work, but their purpose has not yet been lived out.
I intend to add my own stories to those already collected in the old tool and I wonder what new and incredible things they will be apart of.