Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: GENEROUS (10/31/19)
- TITLE: Pieces of Grandma
By Janet Richey
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Along with her other responsibilities of being a farmerâ€™s wife, raising her first-born hearing child, and being an active member of the United Church of Christ, Grandma was challenged with raising a deaf child in the mid 1930s when deaf education was still in its infancy. Dad lost his hearing before the age of two, and, until diagnosed at five, he was a child with no language; frustrated, angry and physically explosive. It would, indeed, take a village.
In September of 1941, Grandma took this complex child to an all deaf school, three hours away from home. Dad saw his parents drive away from the 2nd story window of his dorm room, and tried to jump. A vigilant room parent never gave him the chance.
Alongside math and reading, Dad learned sign-language, lip reading, and how to speak without hearing his voice. When he came home that first Thanksgiving, my father spoke the word â€œMotherâ€. It was a watershed moment for Grandma and every family member that walked alongside her. Six years of struggle, shame, confusion and pain, virtually erased by a single, hard-fought word.
Words turned into sentences, and my fatherâ€™s personality emerged. With Grandmaâ€™s perseverance and Dadâ€™s determination, he became a farmer, husband and father, but ultimately a leader in the deaf community as a pastor and evangelist.
But she wasn't just a mother of a deaf child, she was also Grandma.
She was generous with her time and her meager resources. A potted African violet with fuzzy leaves and delicate pink flowers sits on my kitchen window sill, propagated from one she had over fifty years ago. Every family in her village was blessed to receive one. â€œDonâ€™t water it directly on the leaves, or they will brown,â€ sheâ€™d instruct.
But it was the quilts. While she did plenty of stitching at the church quilting club, creating more complicated patterns like a double wedding ring, most of Grandmaâ€™s were nine-patch works of art, made from old dress fabric, retired wool suiting, and yes, even underwear fabric. She would sandwich them together with knots of embroidery thread, rather than quilting, and was able to give them to just about anyone she felt needed comfort. Each pillow, bed covering or blanket had pieces of Grandma and pieces of history.
During a clean out of our family home, I discovered, inside a chest of drawers, Grandmaâ€™s sewing notions. I fingered each scrap of leftover fabric and ran the white embroidery thread across my hand. I found my way to the nine-patch squares, just waiting to be joined with their other friends, and held them tightly to my chest. I closed my eyes and tried to wish her presence there.
Then, over in the corner was the remnant bolt of underwear fabric. Both giver and recipient had since passed, and I was equally amused and saddened by this unconventional symbol of love between a mother and son.
1 Corinthians 9:7 ESV â€œEach one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.â€ Grandma was generous in a way that could not be duplicated by anyone. She gave what was available to her; a healthy potted plant or a quilt made of scraps. But it was always given from the heart with that signature crooked smile. Perhaps that was the greatest gift of all.
Narrative non fiction.
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