This I Believe

Dana - Plano, Texas
Entered on October 10, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, legacy, love

I believe in my Grama’s stitchery. When I was born, she made a needlepoint pillow with my name and date of birth that says, “Friday’s Child is Loving and Giving.” I’m not sure where the saying came from, but it gave me an early sense of my personal identity and has served as a barometer of pride and comfort during transitional or difficult times. I am Loving. I am Giving. No matter what.

As the first baby girl in her family, my Grama’s hands found joy making me frilly dresses and bonnets adorned with ruffles, bows, and lace. When my mother beseeched her to make something I could actually play in, we received a box full of pink frilly jumpsuits. Her love flowed through every stitch and everything she made was finished with a tag or inscription that said, “Handmade by Grandma.” The only doll I truly loved was a cloth doll named Susie made by my Grama. There’s no telling how many times Susie’s yarn hair had to be resewn, or her torn arm restitched after the tough love I administered over the years. Susie has a special place in my home even today, and she continues to bring me back to a place of innocent happiness.

Throughout my life, special moments have been celebrated and memorialized by my Grama’s stitchery. Above the headboard of my canopy bed was a big cross-stitch of my name decorated with playful objects. When I graduated from high school, she stitched around a collage of pictures of my gawky years and entitled it, “Here’s Looking at You Kid.” I was horrified as a teenager, of course, but I cherish it still now.

Whenever I moved into a new dorm, apartment or home, I received shortly thereafter a housewarming stitch to ensure that all who entered knew that they were loved and blessed. My Grama spent countless hours making my wedding sampler and a quilt that joined muslin squares decorated by my family and friends. The quilt was a first for her and like everything else, she taught herself how to do it beautifully.

My Grama’s love flows to everyone around her through her stitchery. She’s made Christmas stockings for every member of our family, her friends and ours, and even friends of friends whom she’s heard may be in need. Every year, no matter where I am, I receive a unique handmade ornament stitched with my name and the year, which would serve as my marker at Grama’s dinner table if I were there for Christmas Eve. She’s lovingly encircled locks of baby hair and stitched blessings upon the birth of my godchildren and countless others. She custom-made a window seat cushion and matching valance for my new house, which fit perfectly when they arrived even though she lives a thousand miles away. She’s made quilts out of my sister’s sorority shirts and of tiny, handmade squares memorializing special events in our family. Among her most astonishing masterpieces are counted cross-stitches converted from photographs of her four grandchildren, each of which include several hundred different colors of thread. The finished products are nothing short of amazing.

I believe in my Grama’s stitchery because it celebrates the good in all of us. Her stitches warm our hearts, welcome our guests, festoon us in soft hues of personalized fabric, remind us of who we are and most importantly, that we are loved. My Grama’s stitchery proves that the best gift is indeed handmade and it embodies the miracle of God-given talent. During family reunions with the maternal side of my family, we sing a prayer at the end of each day before bed: Bind us together Lord, Bind us together, With cords that cannot be broken; Bind us together Lord, Bind us together, Bind us together with Love.

That’s exactly what my Grama’s stitchery does.