Saturday, April 12, 2008

Farewell, Elegant Eleanor

My Grandmother, Eleanor, whom we called "Gram", died last week. My Dad's mother, she was a multi-talented, elegant, warm, and giving woman. Gram, pictured here before her marriage, was pretty and well-dressed, and her extensive sewing talent was one reason for her beautiful wardrobe. Gram combined many talents with her sewing. She was an amazing horsewoman in her teens, riding and winning multiple horse races. She was tough as nails, and at the same time, always warm, approachable, caring and giving. There for me and everyone in our family.

Gram taught my sister, Leslie, and me to sew by showing us how to hand-stitch clothes for our "Barbie" dolls in the late 1960's. I was impatient at that time in my life, however, and did not pursue fashion sewing until I reached my mid-20s. When that happened, though, Gram was always interested, helpful, and giving of her knowledge. She sewed on french wool flannel, silk, and did it impeccably, tailoring her own suits in her teenage years. She crafted for herself many gowns, attending formal dances with her sweetheart, then husband, my grandfather Bart. In the photo above, Gram is on the right, with PopPop Bart. To the left is Bart's brother, John and his wife, Jean.

For my 40th birthday, Gram gave me a roll of elegant black silk suiting. She told me to make a suit for myself. She said that she liked the fabric so much she saved it. But I like it so much, I'm saving it too. It sits, on a roll in my sewing room closet, and I take it out and admire it every so often.
Gram lost her husband, Bart, back in 1982. But she continued to give and grow, helping and supporting me, and the rest of our family members. She lived to give. She made my first 'dance' dress. She made me a minimum of 2 dresses or outfits each season. How I loved to go with her to "Levines" fabric store, and pick out my very own patterns and fabrics, which became beautiful outfits under Gram's skilled fingers. Gram took me shopping, too. For my 15th birthday, she bought me an extravagantly expensive "Quiana" shirt, which I wore until the collar frayed. She introduced my sister Leslie and me to the delights of a train trip to Philadelphia, where we shopped at John Wanamaker's department store, and enjoyed an elegant 'ladies' lunch'.

When I graduated High School, Gram made me an elegant wool flannel suit and gave me a set of Samsonite luggage. When I was stationed in Germany in the 1980s, Gram sent me scottish shortbread. When I was in college and in Army training, letters from Gram would arrive like clockwork. Gram was the one who picked me up from the train station when I came home from Army training. These things were an expression of Gram's love and caring. She accepted each of us in her family for our individual strengths. Her love and care was unconditional.

Toward the end of her life, Gram had to leave her home and go to a long term care facility. At that time, she gave me her sewing machine and notion box. I hold these gifts close to my heart. This same White sewing machine is the one on which Gram crafted countless suits, dresses, and even bathing suits, for me, my sisters, my cousins, and many others whom were lucky enough to be in her circle.

Gram, I miss you. Farewell and love always. Your actions, care, and love, helped form me into the person I am. Your impact to this world lives on, and will forever. Until we meet again, love and kisses.

10 comments:

kasizzle said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a lovely tribute.
I treasure every moment with my grandmother who recently turned 90. She sounds similar to your Gram.

Shannon said...

What a beautiful tribute to an obviously wonderful woman. You must feel so lucky to have had her in your life.

Liana said...

Barbara, What a lovely and moving tribute to a very special, talented lady. How pleased she must have been to see your talents bloom over the years, and I think there's a lot of her in you.

MarilynB said...

You are so fortunate to have had such a lovely person in your life. Even though she is gone, she always will be with you.

Lisette M said...

A lovely tribute to your grandmother. I too think there's a lot of her in you.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Barbara - what a wonderful and heart-felt tribute to an amazing woman! It seems as if she lived a happy & fulfilled life and she gave you one very important gift - the gift of sewing. You will be able to think of her every time you start a new project!

Nancy (nanflan) said...

Beautiful posting on your grandmother. She sounds like a heck of a woman. How fortunate you are to have had such a grandmother. Thank you for sharing with us.

Sewfast said...

Dear Barbara,
What an elegant tribute to a great lady. Thank you for sharing your Gram with us. My heart goes out to you...hang on to those precious momories! Mary

Marji said...

What a beautifully written tribute to an extraordinary woman.
And what a legacy she left you, along with some wonderful memories.

Gorgeous Things said...

What a wonderful tribute to a lovely lady. You were lucky to have her, and she was lucky to have you!