Today is my late grandmother's birthday. "Nanny" was my teacher in many things: how to have a sense of humor throughout life's ups and downs, how to care for things that grow in sunny windows and small patches of soil in the garden. She taught me how to knit and how to embroider and do crewel work. She gave me my British roots that I am so proud of. I spent just about every weekend at her home when I was young. In the morning, after Grandpop went downstairs to make his coffee, I would slip nto her warm bed and listen to her tell me about coming to this country as a toddler with her parents. She ran the family owned dry cleaners as a teenager with ten younger siblings at home. Back in those days dry cleaners fixed missing buttons and ripped seams without being asked. Growing up I remember a box that was kept on top of our second refrigerator in the laundry room that was labeled "Nanny's mending box". When she came for her weekly visits she would check that box and take the ripped jeans that needed patches and new suit pants that needed hemming home to be mended and returned the following week. I believe that towards the end of her life, before moving to a nursing home, this job helped her feel helpful and needed and of course she was. I remember the sadness I felt when that box remained empty because Nanny could no longer sew a perfect hem and no longer had the energy to even replace a missing button.
I began my quest to figure out a way to incorporate embroidery into my work as an homage to my Grandmother. I couldn't get her off of my mind and embroidery kept popping up in my imagination as something I wanted to try again. I hadn't really done any embroidery stitches since I was a preteen but I remember every stitch she ever taught me: chain, stem, satin, french knots! I feel her with me these recent late nights as I stitch through layers of delicate tissue to make the pieces for my Beasts series. I hope I have made her proud and I hope she celebrates with me on November 10th, the opening of the show in Worcester. My Uncle Bob, her son, will be flying in from Denver to be there and I hope that makes her happy too. Her place in my life was the key to so many things that bring me peace and grounding. I am a grateful and blessed grand daughter. Happy Birthday Nanny, you are forever loved and missed.