Homage to Valerie; or, my mama didn’t raise no fool

bw mom

Well actually my mama did raise a craftin’ fool.  All this crafty madness is because of her.  For all the silly stuff that comes out of my mouth, you’ll have to talk to my dad.  I’ll admit, this post is a departure from my usual super-detailed projects.   I’m treading on my mother’s coat tails on this one.  While I am waiting for the reading nook (or secret reading hideout) to be completed so I can post it, I decided to do a little post about honoring a loved one.  Craftily, of course.

My mother passed away 14 years ago from colon cancer.  I was 25.  (Yeah, yeah, I’m almost 40.  That’s a whole ‘nuther post).  Somehow in that short time I absorbed a lot of my mother’s ingenuity just by watching.  I’m not saying I can always execute it, but I learned from it.  She had a way of putting that final touch on everything that gave it that extra bit of flair or personality.  She also had a way of cursing at her sewing machine when something didn’t go right, so now I feel no guilt when I become frustrated with a project and I let the expletives fly.  I know now her fingers just ached to get involved whenever I told her I had a school project, like the way my ears perk up now when Geoffrey or Logan suggest something.  Or not even suggest something, they just mention an idea in passing and it gets stuck in my head.    Two of her ideas:

  • The school had a contest to show a balanced meal.  I tried to draw a drumstick and vegetables on a plate on a piece of paper.  My drumstick wasn’t coming out right.  Because I was 8, I didn’t know the f-word yet but I would have used it if I did.  My mom passed by and said, why don’t we cover a piece of cardboard with some shelf paper like a table cloth?  What if we glued down a paper plate and plastic cutlery?  What if we cut out a drumstick on construction paper?  I at least suggested we hole punch some peas out of green paper.  The final product was awesome.  I won a WALKMAN, back when a Walkman was a big deal.  And about as large as a tape recorder.  For those of you who remember what a tape recorder is.  Was.  Whatever.
  • I had to make a diorama of a book I read (Forever Ramona, if I recall correctly).  I was depicting a scene in a church and everything was going great, when my mom ever so casually wandered by (I’m starting to see a theme here) and suggested we put a table in the scene.  Before I know it, she had whipped up a table out of construction paper and a thimble.  Then she took it to the next level, y’all.  A shortened birthday candle with one end dipped in glitter became a candle for the table.  A few small pieces of paper stapled together became a book.  A brass casing of some sort became a vase, and a few buds snipped off a bunch of dried flowers were the flowers in the vase.  That tiny table is my mom in a nutshell.  Believe it or not I still have it.  I have saved it since 5th grade:

DSC01768 DSC01766

Pardon my language but that’s how freakin’ bad ass my mom was.  I finally put this in one of those cases you put a baseball in, because I guess I have decided to keep this for a very long time.  That is one way of remembering my mother and everything she was to me.

I also inherited my mother’s fabric stash, most of which I am reluctant to use.  I have a feeling the material Dad brought back from Vietnam which is too pretty to sit in the bottom of a fabric caddy but too pretty to cut too will eventually make its way out into some sort of something for my mom but hey, it’s been in there for over 40 years, what’s another 20?  I did find some pillow cases my mother embroidered (as I recall, on a trip up to Pinecrest Mountain with my friend Cassy and her parents).  That was 1982, and again, those pillow cases sat around for 20+ years.  I think it’s time to do something with them.  I managed to set up a little crafting/sewing corner in the spare bedroom, and when I came across these pillow cases, I decided to frame them and hang them near the sewing machine, which incidentally was my mother’s as well.  Maybe this framing thing is something to do with all the silky Vietnam material that I can’t bring myself to cut.  Anyway, once I hang the embroidery I’ll include that picture, too.


I have also come across quilts my mom sandwiched together but did not sew.  Those have been a godsend in a pinch for a special new baby on the way.  I gave one to my brother and sister-in-law that my niece now uses, and on the tag I put quilted by Valerie and Melody.  I also did the same for a very special baby of my friend Cassy.  I had a girly quilt just waiting for a friend to have a girl.  Cassy’s mom and my mom were best friends, and it is because of them that I have known Cassy since birth.  We have both lost our mothers and so I knew Cassy could appreciate not only a quilt, but a quilt from my mom.  Now maybe if she’ll cough up a picture, I’ll post that as well (nudge nudge Cass.  If those kids give you two minutes to snap a picture, right?)

The hardest part about honoring a loved one is that you can go so overboard that you start to be reminded more of their death and the fact that they are no longer there, rather than celebrating all the wonderful things about them that you love.  Other than those times when I hear my mother’s voice issuing from my mouth (“Who put these in here like this?”  “I ain’t playin’!”  “There are children in Africa who are starving”), crafting is probably the time when I feel closest to my mom, like a little bit of her is living on inside of me. It’s hard to let go of someone who knows you so well, but I am lucky I have a second mom who probably loves me as much as my first mom, so way to go Dad on choosing wives.  It’s a shame Mom never got sucked into Pinterest or got in on these birthday parties, she would have been in her element.  Well like Forrest says, that’s all I have to say about that.    Or as my mom liked to say in her Mr. T. voice “That’s right, foo’!”

(Yeah there’s no monopoly in our family on talking silly)


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathyann
    Sep 28, 2014 @ 09:29:34

    This was a touching read. You are a Good Daughter.



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