Sunday, May 08, 2011

My Mama

My Mama, Eva Ellinor Collier Mena
Yesterday I was crafting some little mushroom habitats for my collection of tiny gnome figures. I got to thinking about how I began crafting and why I liked it. Well, it was all my Mama.

One of my earliest memories--I think I was about 3 years old--is of watching my mom sewing a rag doll. She wouldn't tell me who it was for, but I received it for Christmas. She had sewn it out of an old shirt of my dad's and stuffed it with scraps. The hair was embroidered on with yarn. The eyes were felt circles. I don't remember what color the doll's dress was. The dress and her undies have disappeared into history. But I still have that doll, somewhat dirty and faded, and several years ago I made her a new dress out of white fabric so she could be an angel on my Christmas tree.

My mom was always making something. She knitted, embroidered and sewed. For several years when my sister and I were young, she made us Halloween costumes. I well remember the clown costumes made out of bright satins and gold rickrack she made one year. One year she began making Christmas stockings for each of us in the family. I still have two of those. They were made of felt with angels and snowmen and lots of sequins. I also have several Christmas ornaments she made out of felt.

When she felt I was old enough (I think I was 7), she said it was time for me to start making things. She bought felt and sequins and thread and needles, and I started to make pincushions, glasses cases, coasters and little ornaments to give as gifts for Christmas. As my skills grew, she taught me to embroider (crewel and cross stitch) and to knit. I remember many a night in my teens, sitting with my family in front of the TV. My mom would be knitting and I would be embroidering. We weren't allowed to just sit with idle hands. Now I am reaping the rewards of those years of teaching!

My Mom had a deeply artistic soul and enjoyed art, music, reading, museums and beautiful things. She was always reading a book or listening to music. When my sister and I were young and took piano lessons, she took them, too. She told us how she played violin as a young girl, and my mom could sing beautifully--even operatically--and I believe there is a vinyl LP in my dad's home that is a recording of her singing. She collected beautiful things, like Lladro figurines and later, thimbles and owls. She knew a lot about art, and going to the museum was always a welcome experience because she always knew something to tell us about the paintings or sculptures we saw. My Mama spoke or understood 7 languages. She encouraged me to learn languages, too, and got me started with penpalling from early on. Now I continue through

My Mama was an amazing cook. She loved Julia Child and would watch Julia's shows regularly on TV. Her copy of Julia's cookbook was spattered and used as she made us scrumptious Sunday dinners of crepes, duck and other gourmet dishes. The birthday cakes she made us were always fantastic and decorated with sprinkles and jimmies and candles. She delighted in making cakes and cookies and at Christmas made dozens of different kinds to eat and share. Yum!

My first fairy tales were read to me by my Mama. She was German so I was exposed to the stories she knew, and going to the library was something I learned from my mom. With her help I learned about and read the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, the Grimm Brothers, and the Lang colored fairy tale books. These stories influence me to this day with my love of nature, animals, fairies and gnomes, magic and faith in the unseen. These stories taught courage, hope and love. I learned all this from my mom. When I was 17 or 18, my mom gave me the book "Gnomes" by Rien Poortvliet. It's still one of my favorites and my own gnome collection is a result of this precious book. She always knew what I would like and enjoy!

How my mom would be delighted with the exploding world of crafting we now have! I can imagine that if she was still with us, I would enjoy going to Michael's or JoAnn Fabrics with her, talking about and planning crafts, sewing or other special creations.

What is truly amazing about all of this is that at the same time that my mom was mothering, she was also a physician, specializing in child psychiatry. She had a career out of the home and in the home. She was never unavailable! There is not enough room to tell about all the things my Mama made or cooked or said or did. She was always busy--in a good way--and was one of the most creative, sensitive and feeling people I have ever known. Everything of value, caring and sharing, in my own life, is directly a result of my Mama. God blessed me over and over through her.

So today, for Mother's Day, I am putting a picture of my Mama in my craft area. It seems fitting that as I sit and sew and craft, I can look at her and tell her, "Thanks Mama, for yourself and for all you have given me. You are wonderful!"

Happy Mother's Day, Mama! I love you. :)


Kathryn said...

Thank you, Else. What a beautiful reflection on your beautiful mother. I am glad you were blessed to have her as a mom! It's clear that you are much like her.

Kateye's Percolator said...

Else...this is so poignant...I never met your mom, but remember attending her service not long after you hired me. You are blessed.

Else M Tennessen said...

Thanks to both of you!

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