Saturday, January 23, 2010

Creative Legacy......

It has been a bittersweet time in our family. This past week we lost my husband's mother who was known to so many as Grandma Jean. She was a rare and amazing soul who had the gift of making everyone feel like the center of the universe when in her presence. She was the rock and the central force for her eight children and their families. Her battle with cancer came on quickly and took her just as quickly. We were blessed with caring for her at home with hospice in the final days and sending her to heaven bathed in tender care and surrounded by all who loved her. As heartbreaking as these last days have been, they have also been a rare gift to each of us. The gift of time to say what might not have been said, to love, touch and feel more deeply, to witness what it is to have loved and lived all of yourself to another...regreting nothing. It has been a reminder that life is uncertian and each day is a wealth of opportunity to reach out, love, forgive, risk, speak truth, and care deeply for those in our lives. It seems like such a cliche but it is really true...we might only have this day to let others know how much we love them. So today is truly a gift.

I wanted to honor her and share a small sampling of her creative and passionate giftedness. Jean was one of the most talented seamstresses and creator of anything by hand (knitting, crocheting, etc). As a family, we decided to gather some of her creations that we were all blessed to have received over the years, and display them at the memorial service and reception. The reality was it was only a teeny fraction of what she had created in her lifetime. I have been struck by the legacy she left by sharing her gift with those she most loved. We all have a treasure chest of items to pass down to our children. So be encouraged today at the gifts each of you have been given in your own creativity. The ability to create and give anything by hand and heart is a rare blessing.

All of the girls in the family were thrilled several years ago when our Mother gifted us with her Designer Barbies. The intricate beading and crocheting in each one is really amazing. Each little crown, bracelet or accessory on each work was handmade. It is the one adorned in gold that sits in my china cabinet surrounded by pretty teacups! You can click on each image to see a larger detailed picture.

Each daughter was also given the gift of a beautiful, personally designed wedding gown. The love, time and intricate care put into each of these pieces will be a lasting heritage. These dresses had been carefully preserved in beautfiul tissue and sealed boxes. It was with great anticipation that the seals were broken and the precious contents opened to share with those who had come to celebrate the life of our Mother. Amidst the tears and heartache, we all shared laughter and joy with each other as well. It was such a fun evening when the daughters (Moms) tried the gowns on again (or had their daughters try them

It has occured to me that what we hold most dear and precious should not be kept hidden away but opened and shared this present moment. There are personal dreams we each tuck away, words not yet spoken, gifts not yet given, and time not yet spent with a loved one that we all pack away in our pretty boxes that sit on shelves for that "Someday". For us girls, that "someday" arrived and we discovered it really was "today". We will all never forget the "We are Family" fashion show, fun memories and good times (and boy can our family have good times!) shared when we unwrapped those gowns. The joy they brought us were best experienced right the present that gift that is "today". I'd invite you to consider what you might have kept carefully preserved in that tissue box on the shelf? Maybe today it is best opened, shared and experienced!

The entire family came together to create small tokens for all those who came to help us celebrate her life. It was a beautiful site as we would all gather to care for our mother, share meals, and sit around the large wooden family table (oh if this table could talk) and make tiny little balls of yarn that adorned little handmade knitting basket ornaments. As Christmas was my Mother-in-law's favorite time of the year, we thought it fitting to create a remembrance of her to put on the tree each year. It was a time to be together, share memories, laugh, cry or just be quiet in our own thoughts! At the reception each little treasure was hung on a small Christmas tree and all who gathered were invited to take was as gift from her children, grandchildren and dear friends!

I was fortunate one day to have my camara with me as our Mother was doing what transported her, relaxed her and gave her such deep pleasure...knitting. I know she indulged me when she let me take these photos of her knitting as she was never one for a big fuss or any kind of attention. I wish I had taken the countless opportunites to learn from her earlier, but I did sit under her watchful eye that sweet day as she imparted her wisdom and craft to me in those final days. I have a long way to go but my first scarf has begun. I am sure as the days and weeks pass I will only then begin to hear deep in my heart all that she imparted to me in these last 30 years of being blessed to be grafted into her family and had the priviledge of becoming one of "her daughters".


I wanted to share a rich and deeply moving book a friend gave me this week. For those who are grieving any kind of loss it is a simple yet profoundly powerful and beautifully illustrated book. Young and old alike will be moved by the tender truth spoken on its pages.Its a special gift to share with anyone whose heart has entered a season of grief. You can find out more about the book on the "Tear Soup" website!

So we are all still moving about in a bit of a fog, grappling with getting back to "normal life". At some point, I am sure I will find my way back into the studio and the act of creating will move the tears and sadness to new places. For now...we are giving ourselves permission to just rest and look forward to the next time we can enjoy the company of our brothers, sisters and their families! For now...we are just in "today".


JoAnnA Pierotti said...

Dear Lani, Dave and family,
My heartfelt compassion for your loss of your loved one, Jean. My heart knows all too well what this loss means and feels like.

Lani, what a beautiful tribute you have shared of your Mother here for us. Thank you. It made me wish I could have met her. She was a loving soul and so creative. I have never seen Barbie clothes so beautiful. What treasures you all have that her hands and heart created.

As the days pass and the pain eases, may God fill that void with His love and compassion. Only He can do that, I've come to find.

Healing prayers my friend, for all of you.


Sharon said...

Amazing and beautiful tribute of dreams and memories.

slommler said...

What a fabulous tribute! And I loved the "wedding dress" photo! The dresses are so beautiful! A perfect way to celebrate a creative life. To display her "works" for all to see. Wonderful! My gentle hugs to you and all in your family!

michelle allen said...

a beautiful post Lani. that picture of her knitting is so touching. thank you for sharing and the reminder of just how short our time is here on earth. to choose wisely how we spend it. it seems by your tribute, your mom (mil) spent her time well.

Anonymous said...

Wow Lani - what an amazing tribute to an amazing woman. It really inspired me to keep creating the things I love (quilts, jewelry) because they will one day be precious memories for my family.

I lost my mom in August to cancer - it had been an intense battle for the 16 months from diagnosis to her passing. I'm going to buy Tear Soup asap.

Take care - I know how difficult it can be. Cheri

P.S. My daughter would have had to try on my wedding dress :-)

Apple said...

Beautiful dolls...I love the scarf!! :)

Ann said...

You've created a beautiful memory of Grandma Jean here Lani. What is so sad about a long life ending is losing another link with the past.

Altered Moments said...

My Grandad died at the end of last year he also had cancer he went downhill so quickly I was there at the end we also cared for him at home, it was his wish. I'm so glad to have been there for him right until the end. I paid a small tribute to him by designing some artwork for his order of service and to honour him the last post was sounded at his graveside (he had been in the second world war). What a lovely tribute you paid to you Husbands Mum I bet she would have been proud of you all. Clare xx

Anonymous said...

That was beautifully written and shared. I am also healing from the loss of my mother and thank you for sharing yours and your families photos, stories and gifts to each other.

Kellys Art Journaling/ Sharing The Journey said...

All I can say Lani, is that i am deeply touched by this woman of whom you had the blessing and honor to release to God. She certainly left behind an amazing legacy of art in each thing she made though what is even more apparent is the love that went into each piece of work completed and then gifted to her loved ones. You are so blessed to have known and paid tribute to such a wonderful lady. Those barbie dresses are so amazing!

Lovey said...

Oh my...what a beautiful and giving woman your Mother In-Law was/is. As she is in Heaven...Such a rich and touching tribute to a life that has touched so many other lives. It's amazing that her love for her children blossomed into so many memories and gifts to share and remember as the days go by. To have the dolls, the gowns, the quilts, the love, the knitting, the gifts, the memories, the joy, the peace, the Blessings of a Wonderful woman...her life was fulfilled and her legacy passed on. Until you all meet again...find comfort in knowing the joy that was set before you in this beautiful package now rests in the arms of Our Lord.
Blessing upon you all...Lani, Dave and Family.
With Love, honor, and respect...Lovey