Mom’s birthday is today. In honor, I thought I’d re-run this post from two years ago.

This is a portrait of my mom, done in pastels when she was a young mother of five children. Today is Mom’s birthday. She died a few years ago. After my step-dad died, I ended up with the portrait. It hangs now in my quilt studio.

When I am working on projects, I have very little awareness of my surroundings. Unlike some people, who cherish special mementos around them, I don’t see anything except the work in front of me. But now and then I pause. When I look up and see Mom behind my long-arm, I’m surprised every time.

She could make anything. Sewing, tatting, needlepoint, crochet. Our community theatres enjoyed her talents as a costumer for many years. She created emperors and beggars, seven foot tall chickens and a cow, Tony and Maria and Officer Krupke. She remodeled bathrooms and kitchens and refinished furniture.

She didn’t leave a written legacy. No journals, no letters, never a greeting card. However, I do have a few other things from her I cherish.

I have three tangible items she made. One is a small wooden cabinet that hangs in our bathroom. Another is a cradle she made before our son was born. And another is a small standing cabinet, used in my childhood home as an end table in our living room. I won’t get to keep the cradle, ultimately, as it really belongs to our son.

As to intangible gifts, I think there are many. She was not a bigot, but welcomed people of all types into her heart. She gave me the gift of accepting others. She was frugal and ably met the challenges of a small budget with many expenses. She taught me how to be careful with money, too. She was imaginative, both in her ideas and in figuring out how to execute them. I immodestly will say, I think I learned by her example. She didn’t let other people’s ideas of what she should do rule her life, and she taught me that a woman can do whatever she chooses.

I didn’t inherit her Elizabeth Taylor-like beauty. I didn’t inherit her temper, more even than mine. But I still have the best of her in my heart. And every time I see her in my studio, I know my creative talents were nurtured by her example. Looking up, seeing her behind my long-arm, sharing my work with me, is a happy surprise every time.

21 thoughts on “Mom

  1. Sue Watson

    Your accolade to your mum is very touching. She must have been a remarkable woman to have had so much talent and compassion.

  2. Sarah

    I enjoyed reading your description of your mother and sharing your memories. Reminds us that it is not what we say but what we do that lives long after we are physically gone. It is so nice that she is still with you in the many ways you shared in your reflections. You made me wish I could have known her. Thank you for sharing .

  3. Tammy

    A lovely tribute to your mom, and I’m sure she is very proud of you too. I still have my mom, a mother of eight! She is always so proud that all of us are responsible, contributing citizens. I think I will put her picture in my sewing room-thanks for the idea.

  4. zippyquilts

    Nice post! My Mother’s picture was on the internet a few years ago as part of a women’s history museum at the college she attended. I got a kick out of someone who never touched a computer being on the internet šŸ™‚

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Sweet memory! I remember how excited my mom was to get a calculator in the late 70s. She used it for her job designing kitchens for a home-supplies company, kinda like a Lowes or Home Depot now but with furniture too.


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