My grandmother lived to the age of 110 years old. Born in 1898, her life was lived in three centuries until she passed away on Christmas Day in 2008. Imagine the evolution in technology, politics, transportation and fashion that she witnessed in those eleven decades. The secret to her longevity can only be explained by her intense interest in a variety of hobbies. Grammie read books, collected stamps, grew wildflowers and ferns. She made quilts, knitted sweaters and crocheted afghans. She designed and hooked rugs with wool strips that for many, she dyed and cut by hand. Grammie loved antiques and the history behind them. When my grandfather was alive they collected beautiful old clocks that chimed harmoniously in their house.
It wasn’t until I was 23 years old that I became close friends with my grandmother. Up until that time she was a mesmerizing entity who visited us briefly and not very often at our home in Jenkintown, PA. We entered an enchanted world on the rare occasion that we visited her in the quaint yellow house at
8 Cherry St.
But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really got to know the woman
living inside of that captivating exterior. During that time she encouraged me to take up counted cross stitch
and together we set out to produce every Noah’s Ark sampler that we could
find. Many an afternoon I spent with
her, either spread out in the back yard or curled up by the fireplace, threading
our needles with a rainbow of colored floss and stitching away. Hudson Falls, NY
While we toiled over our needlework we talked about everything under the sun. In those moments we were simply two girls with humorous anecdotes, serious concerns about the state of the world, or family stories to share. After my days spent with Grammie, I left filled with brain food that I could digest until our next planned visit.
Often we traveled together, mostly to visit other family members including Aunt Mary, (another captivating entity), who was Grammie's roommate at
College. You can only imagine the intelligent conversations that arose when those two got together. Don't be fooled, most of their dialogue brought tears of laughter to those of us just listening in on the chatter! Mt. Holyoke
While my grandmother spent four years, after graduation, working as a bacteriologist for the state of Rhode Island's water department in Providence, Aunt Mary's younger brother Kip was attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. After his graduation, he and Grammie were married and moved to Hudson Falls where he had grown up.
The walls of Grammie’s house were full of her exquisite counted cross stitch samplers that she had produced for decades. Many of the pieces were reproductions of samplers that hung in the
Americana section of museums around New England. Some of the samplers Grammie had designed herself with motifs
that represented her family's interests. Tall case clocks, pewter pitchers and
songbirds were among these beautiful motifs.
One of the reproduction pieces depicted a dairy farm with a large barn and house. The landscape was full of cows, calves, sheep and chickens. In 1983, Grammie reproduced a copy of the farm sampler, customizing it to resemble more of a horse farm. She added motifs to the piece that clearly identified the owner of the farm as me. On Christmas morning I unwrapped the beautiful sampler and marveled at all the personal designs. On that fabric was stitched my future although, I was still a year away from meeting Rod Phinney.
The sampler, now stretched in a handsome wooden frame, hangs in our front hall as a reminder of all my grandmother's gifts and talents, especially in predicting the future.
With a LOT of help, I built myself a farm.
Grammie visited us often at Lakeview Farm, Inlet, NY.
Getting to know 3 year old Windy, (1986).