My great-grandmother was still alive when I was little. I called her Nina. I called her that because that’s what my mother called her, and for many years I did not realize that that’s what she and my uncle called her to distinguish her from their other grandmother, Nana. I thought “Nina” was her name. Which meant that for the longest time I did not realize that this woman was related to me. I thought she was just the nice lady who shacked up with Grandpa.
Nina and her sister (whom I never met) made hand-crafted Christmas ornaments. Beautiful, ornate, bejewelled things that were the pride of my Grandma Penny’s tree. A half-dozen or so years ago, she let my mother, brother and I select the ones we wanted. So now some of those breathtakingly lovely things hang on my tree.
What’s amazing is that in looking at them, I can hear the voices of generations past speaking to me through the craftsmanship and care so evident in their construction.
This one says, “Depression era women could butcher a hog, kill a chicken, bake a pie out of anything that didn’t move, whitewash floors and sew every stitch of clothing their family wore and you need a stapler to hem pants.”
If you listen closely to this one:
Then there’s this one:
That whispers, “I owned nine different types of guns and I wasn’t afraid to use any of them and you can’t figure out an ant stake.”
And finally, this one:
Well…That’s what they say individually.
But collectively they say, “Lori, we are so pleased with who you have become. We are proud to be the women who came before. Who you are is who we were, as you will be for those who come next. We love you, our girl child, very very much.”
So mostly I listen to them as a group.