My Mother-in-Law, Dorothy, turns 95 years old today.
In honor of her birthday, we will drive over to the town where she lives. We will spend the day with her, first taking her out to breakfast. and then just relaxing in her little home, and serving more food and the cherry pie that she asked for. Hopefully, we will come up with some fun conversations to cheer her up, and make her laugh, and remind her why we still want, and need her, in our lives. And of course, we will give her gifts, for in spite of everything, she is still a gift to us.
Getting old has been very hard on her. She hates it. She hates not being able to do what she wants to do, or go where she wants to go. It's all she can do to walk across the room with her walker. All she can do to lift a simple re-heatable dinner into the new countertop microwave that we had to buy because her arm couldn't lift high enough to reach the regular one. For now, others have to come into her home to cook and to clean for her, someone else has to help her lift her feet into the bed at night, bring up the covers and tuck her in....things she once did for others, once did for herself, now has to be done for her.
But her life still has meaning and value...for she is still loved. That love, and all of her changes through time, remind me of the children's book "The Velveteen Rabbit",for in spite of every thing.....Dorothy is still ours to love. She still does the best that she can...even if she hates how she has to do it...now.
She made my youngest daughter the blue and coral quilt in this photo. It took her the last three years to finish her appliqued umbrella girls and just to put the main pieces together. She had her quilting frame setup in her dining room, and using her walker, she inched painfully around it and tied the whole quilt by herself. She couldn't even push the pedal on her sewing machine when she needed to make the back, or the binding and she wouldn't let me do it for her, or even help her when I offered.And I offered over and over, again.
When I wasn't around, she asked her youngest son, my husband, to finish piecing the back, and later to sew on the binding for her. He barely knew how to turn on a sewing machine and never told me about any of this. It was supposed to be their secret.....she wanted to make it and finish it, 'herself'.
She told him how to make the back..."you sew the big piece to the little piece" she said. So, he did. It never occurred to him to use sewing pins and his piecing was as crooked as can be, but he did it with her watching. She told him how to put on the binding. She hated that is was too loose and floppy and the batting didn't extend inside. But they did it together ,and it was hers to do.
For whatever reason, she chose not to criticize him, or tell him how it should have been done. She accepted that's how it is for her now, and was glad that it was done. She presented it to my youngest daughter, right before Christmas.
And to my child, this gift of the last quilt her grandmother will ever make, was a treasure...just as Grandma is...even on her worst and most crabby and falling apart days. For there is a sad part of her Grandma that believes that she is 'ugly' now, though we tell her over and over and over that she is still beautiful. For Dorothy is our own little 'Velveteen Rabbit' and she was, is, and will always be, beautiful to us.....and to anyone who truly knows her.
An excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit:
"That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily,
or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off,
and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.
But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real
you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
We love you just the way you are!
In honor of her birthday: a gift for all of you
Free e-Book: The Velveteen Rabbit