Friday, 28 December 2012

Awakening. Blog 9.

Winter Feelings

Happy cooking for the family.
Holidays and memories of my mother smiling, laughing, cooking. A dove of peace atop our tree, it must still be in a box somewhere underneath my father’s house. Looking through what I have written here, however, I feel a little bit like I have blogged my mother into angel-hood or dove-dom. To clarify, my mother was not all goodness and smiles. She had a ferocious temper, an unreasonable impatience with imperfection, and an aggressive and often biting fierceness to her. She was friend to many, deeply and passionately, but also, to some, a famous enemy. Outspoken, passionate, and often temperamental, she mellowed some with age, learned patience and, when faced with death, spoke with pride and great courage.

Upon learning of her terminal cancer, she decisively asked for all her grandchildren, our two and my brother’s two, to come to her before she was too sick to really be with them. We came first with Rachel, 20, and David, 16, in March. My brother followed in April with Will, also 20, and Sophie, 17. In the evening of our first night, she sat with me and the kids, I was incredibly impressed with her ability to confront her illness and speak openly. I was unable to sleep that night until I wrote some of it down:

“Tekla speaks to her grandchildren with an honesty and integrity and courage that amazes me. She tells them clearly about her illness, how quickly it has come on, how virulent the cancer is and her choice not to have chemotherapy. She explains that is hard and painful for her not to see them grow up, talks about how special they are to her: Rachel as the first grandchild and their very close and special relationship. David and their special relationship... She tells them how she is not afraid and how she goes away from life with no regrets. We list her accomplishments and she speaks of them with pride. And I am so, so proud. We all weep a little and laugh a little.”

Of course, the following day, when my daughter and I discussed how both hard and  special it was to have her grandmother be able to say good-bye as she had done, I mentioned to my daughter how I couldn’t sleep until I wrote some of it down. My daughter’s response?  “Ma, I recorded it on my iPhone”. Technology... sigh... at it’s best. 

My mother made a dying gift to us all of her openness, strength, and eloquence. 

Tekla's grandchildren, a collage through time.

Mother Bear

After the building of the new Pender Island Community Hall, my mother was part of a group who carved the “mother bear” and other totem poles which now stand at the front of the Hall. I remember her proudly telling me about the carving, a special time in her life. My mama bear, the totem climber and carver....

This was one of my favorite t-shirts. For the block, I only used one choice of the quilting fabrics which I initially chose: the fern pattern. Ferns in B.C. and in Costa Rica, both her homes, were what prompted me to choose this fabric. I especially like the bleach stain spot and the faded worn and warm essence of this shirt.

The Totem Carvers

Block from T-shirt to raise funds for Community Hall Totem.



Proud to Farm


Tekla at the Farmer's Market in her "Proud to Farm" tee.
From the wide stretches of Saskatchewan prairie farmland to the city and then to her country garden on the Gulf Islands, my mother always had the heart and head of a farmer. She knew the soil, understood the timing of growth and the goodness of rain. A bad grub would be swiftly executed, earthworms would be praised, watering would be root deep, composting clippings would rustle as they transformed into fine rich dirt. Fat peas were grown to be stolen from the vine when we visited her garden. Her flowers almost embarrassed and overwhelmed us with their beauty. 

This block will have some leaves stitched on, they are currently pinned. I was going to cover the corporate “American Eagle” logo with a leaf and then I saw the t-shirt had some fame as a retro tee being sold on eBay for an inflated price... this gave me a chuckle, so I left the "ae".

Proud to Farm t-shirt block.

Definitely the Opera

A late addition to the dwindling t-shirt pile, this one from CBC’s “Definitely not the Opera” weekend radio show. When I realized I might run out of t-shirts enough to make a queen sized quilt, my father brought this back from their other home in Costa Rica. So worn, it was almost falling apart in my hands as I ironed and sewed it... the tropical climate of Costa Rica makes everything so transient, moisture and weather taking back all our fragile man made goods. Return to the earth says the rain forest, return and renew.

Threadbare tee made into thread-rich block.

In the garden, my mother would consistently have the CBC playing on her battery powered radio, she would listen to most anything that they put on, but it was “Saturday Afternoon at the Met", the formidable force of those operatic voices, that she enjoyed the most. Pavarotti was her most beloved opera singer and he joined us at her “good-bye” just as she had planned. Listen.


Celebrating the summer solstice of 1984 in the winter solstice of 2012.
Winter solstice (Dec. 21st) now passed and I am walking since that solstice day for the first time after almost four months. The foot aches, the ankle, the knee, the hip, but to move is a gift and I am grinning and bearing (and sometimes crying) with these new pains and the effort of walking again. I crawl out of my 2012 cocoon of injury and grief moving slowly towards a new year, 2013. And I hear my mother’s words... “take care of each other, take care of the earth”.

My Tekla memory quilt layout updated, six more blocks to go.


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