Umbrella Girls

One never knows when they may stumble across a treasure. It seems my mom took steps to make sure my life would be sprinkled with intermittent little surprises long after she was gone.

And mom has been gone a very long time. But she left me with twelve lovely ladies.

When I first discovered the girls, I was afraid to handle them. There they were, hidden under a stack of paired, embroidered pillow cases.

Ah, yes, I can remember sitting at my mothers feet many a day as a child, watching her work. She would sit in her special chair in the corner of the living room, methodically poking her needle and thread through a bakery flour sack-turned-pillow case, creating beautiful colorful threaded scenes on the stark white fabric.

I was just a child, with no interest or patience for sewing the days of the week on flour sack-turned-dish towels, or “his” and “hers” on pillow cases….I just wanted to go outside and play….but they were beautiful works of art; a combined effort between her skill, and dads foresight to bring home the empty flour sacks from his bakery, and I was mesmerized.

Mom was an embroidery freak.

Even though she has been gone a very long time, a part of her remains throughout my house; on table cloths, dresser scarfs, and various uniquely decorated fabric items. Yes, I’ve got enough embroidered this and that to last me a life time. Pillow cases and dish towels I’ll never use up. And on rare occasions when I’m feeling a little blue, I might tap into a stack of her embroidered linens, brush a melancholy hand across a colorful peacock and think back to those days long ago. Spending time with her, day after day, as she sat anchored to her chair, sewing with such passion, waiting for her to let me go play outside.

Way back then, moms creative juices didn’t stop with embroidery. She fancied crochet, and ceramics, too. She even did some quilting, sewn all by hand. Which brings me back to my twelve lovely ladies.

When I lifted the neatly folded pillow cases up out of the drawer, there they were. A stack of perfectly flat, perfectly aligned colorful ladies with big full skirts. Twelve ladies. Each a different printed vintage fabric, all uniquely beautiful. Their heads were separate pieces and each had a big matching umbrella.

Moms Umbrella Girls.

I gasped in awe. Look at these precious women! All this time they’ve been buried under flour sacks! I laid them all out in a parade of Umbrella Girls. They were beautiful! They are beautiful with their puffy short sleeve, tiny waist southern bell gowns and Mary Poppins umbrellas! I couldn’t pick one favorite.Umbrella2 Then I noticed some of them were not completed.

Oh my.

It all came back to me.

The project. Mom and her sister started working on a secret project right after she was diagnosed with cancer. This is that project. The quilt. She was making me a quilt.

Somber would be a good descriptive word for starters, followed by long span of time without breathing. Feeling a little queasy, a little lightheaded, a little like bursting into tears, I picked up one of the Umbrella Girls. I held it to my face, deeply inhaled, and smelled the vintage fabric.

Mom.

Memories from 30 years ago pierced through my heart like yesterday. We missed out on a whole life together.

I know Mom had hoped I would be as passionate as she was about embroidery. Every time she would hand me a small starter project I would last about 15 minutes tops. I tried. I really tried. But my efforts paled in comparison to hers. Her stitches were so perfect you couldn’t identify front from back. My work looked like “connect the dots”. To this day I never did get the urge to embroidery. What can I say? My passion is to spend my free hours hunting, fishing or something exciting in the outdoors. I’m just not one to sit anchored in the corner of the living room and sew for hours on end.

Umbrella1Now here I am, trying to explain all this to my twelve lovely ladies. Spread out across the table, they cry out for a purpose. A life. “Bring us to fruition!” they plead. They deserve to be showcased. But I’m no quilter, or sewing guru.   So once again they are delicately folded and stacked together, carefully tucked away until I can come up with a plan.

Eventually I will come up with a plan.

A few ideas have been brought up to me. Perhaps create a collage of them in a large picture frame or two, or hang them individually throughout the house in some creative manner. Truthfully I’m not sure what to do with my Umbrella Girls, other than love and appreciate that they exist in my world, thanks to my mom.

If it was you, what would you do with twelve Umbrella Girls?

Thank you for reading my post. Did it strike a chord for you or did it seem far and away from your own perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts! All comments are greatly appreciated. You can read about all sorts of feelings, opinions and ideas from the heart and soul of an outdoorswoman… there are lots of topics covered in my blog category, “Girl Outdoors”. If you like what you see, please let me know by “liking” my website. You can even join my tribe to automatically receive new postings ‘hot off the press’. As always, please feel free to share my information with others who may find interest and value in PR Brady AdVentures! Thanks again!

 

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Comments

  1. These are sweet. If it were me, I would pay someone to finish it and then use it with love. I’m not sure how big it is but most quilting shops have people who will do that for you. It isn’t always cheap but not horribly expensive either.

    • Yes, the pictures don’t do them justice. They are vibrant and delicate and awesome. I’ve pretty much rested on keeping the girls around as a treasured memory.

  2. MaryAnn Mings says:

    Patty: I am a quilter so I instantly recognized the hopefulness your mother felt working on a lengthy, intricate quilt project for her daughter. It mat interest you to look at Etsy or Pinterest or Google to see completed “Sunbonnet Sue” quilts to see possibilities. I started hand piecing instead of machine piecing the last years so I know time is a big factor for completion, which your mother knew and which kept her going longer than if not sewing. Either way, completion of the quilt or curiosity about her mindset to complete are now carefully in your mature hands. Advice: love the ladies by honoring their completion in a quilt. Priceless gift!

    • Thank you for your compassionate (and expert I might add) insights! There are some pretty amazing “machine made” quilts out there, but nothing compares to a hand stitched product. I do feel like I have a treasure here, for sure. I agree, I should go with a quilt.

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