Friday, September 5, 2008

follow up things to do : letters from a seamstress

needles, thread, and fabric

[Couldn't get her other letters uploaded :( -- will try again at another time, with a pic]

Of my grandmothers, and God knows I have had a share, my maternal grandmother was my ultimate highlight. She was an “oh-my!” She moved to Fort Worth from Crockett, Texas (named for Davy) and worked in a factory as a seamstress: curtains and upholstery. She purchased her first home on her own—at a time when my culture was not considered a part of humanity. I never heard her speak against another culture and she never made it past ninth grade.

Her personality was out of this world. She cussed all the time; she drank beer nearly every day and smoked cigarettes into the wee hours of night with hard core blues playing in the background (but this is not new news). She taught me how to dance and sang a lot of love songs---to me. She had gold teeth. She was married more than twice and one of those was common law.

After my daughter and I moved to California, she was not the same. She was happy for us, but tried and tried to get us to come back home. I learned so much from her; through her trials, her vibrance, her pain, I learned about the world during our many living room settings: the beer, the cigarettes, the blues—just us two—I listened to her; I watched her all the time. Every movement she made, everything she ever did, she was a story. She never stopped being a story. Sometimes she was a tragedy---sometimes she was a triumph.

When I recently re-read her letters (and remembered I had never seen her write anything longer than a few words), I feel that part of my story where even words are at a loss and meaning...there are none to describe the love I have for her; there is no language to describe this kind of nostalgia. She was not a usual kind of grandmother and my brother and I called her simply “Big.”

Rhoda Nell 1932—1993.


Shawna Yang Ryan said...

aw. beautiful. i love your blog. can't you just turn your blog into a book??

mouse (aka kimy) said...

such a treasure that you still have 'big's' grandfather was a avid letter writer, unfortunately I only have one letter of all the letters he wrote ...the era of email has taken that away the joy that comes from seeing the handwriting of long gone loved ones...