Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sewing with Meme's machine

As a child, I loved to spend time with my Meme.  What little girl doesn't?  She was loving, patient, and very giving.  Although she was a little rough around the edges and occasionally let out a few choice words (to which she would immediately turn to me and say "Excuse my French, Allison"), she was mine and I loved her just the way she was.

We actually didn't know about many of the things that she did to give herself away during her life.  It wasn't until after her death that stories emerged of things that she had made and given to people who were needy in one way or another.  She was living out the scripture "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing"  Matthew 6:3.  I knew this verse well.  It was a verse from one of the many large passages of scripture that I memorized as a homeschool child.  Somehow it came more alive to me after my Meme's death than any other time.  She had been doing just that.

Here is a picture of me sitting in my Meme's lap with my older brother Scott, and Big Mama (Meme's mom...the name is a story all of it's own).  Ahhh, look at those dresses and hair styles...theirs, not mine:)

Here is a picture of Meme holding my newborn brother Adam. (And, look how sweet that baby is!)  I love the look on my face as I am looking up at her.  Admiration in my eyes?  Yes. 

 And, here is a picture of my Meme with all three of us kids.  She was a regular part of our lives and lived only a couple of miles away.  Wow...that wallpaper...and those glasses!

 She was an artist.  She loved to create and she loved to give. I still have many things that she made for me as a child and can remember all the special treasures that didn't survive the years. 
She taught me how to crochet, knit, quilt, and she enhanced my knowledge and experience in sewing.  As a teen, I would occasionally go with her to the little shop where she worked.  I would work with her when the owner wasn't going to be there.  It was a craft shop.  I can't even remember the name but, I can remember the place.  It was full of so many wonderful craft items and instruction books.  I think that she mostly brought me along because she didn't want to be lonely all day and she didn't like to balance the books at the end of the day...haha.  (Back in the day when you actually had to do math and not just press buttons on a computer.)  She would give me the account book and say that it was my homeschool lesson for the day...but even back then, I knew that numbers were not her strength.  I loved her.  Loved spending time with her.  And, still love her to this day. 

She was a mystery.  She had lived alone since my Pawpaw passed away over a decade before.  She lived a simple life in a little apartment full of priceless memories and old treasures.  One such treasure was a letter from my Pawpaw that my mother found in her bedside table after she left this world.  It was written before they were married and while my Pawpaw was serving our country in the military.
I stayed with her for a week one time as a teen, in that little apartment, when my parents were going out of town.  She insisted on giving me her bedroom and she slept out on the couch.  It is a week that I will cherish for the rest of my days.  Just Meme and me in her little apartment.

So, now as an adult, words cannot describe the roller coaster of emotion that I ride each time that I pull out her old sewing machine.  I kept it put away for many years so as not to damage it.  Then, I thought that she would really prefer that I use that old machine not store it in my closet.  So, I pulled it out and sewed curtains and things for my little apartment in Virginia where Peter and I lived shortly after we were married.  (We lived in Virginia for four years while he earned a JD and a masters degree in Government.)

A few years ago, I decided to trade the old machine in along with the machine that my parents bought me for my tenth birthday.  I was hoping to upgrade to something fancier and more modern.  As I was checking through to make sure that all the parts were there, I noticed something scratched into the machine.  It was in plain view and I can't believe that I hadn't seen it all those years.  It was her initials.  Mozelle Virginia Harvill...MVH.  As I stared at it, I was pulled through time and space to see her sewing with this very machine in her little apartment all those years ago.  No, I couldn't sell this machine.  Call me nostalgic, but this machine will forever be in my home.

Here you can see the tape that she placed on the machine to help her keep her fabric straight as she fed it through the machine.

 I have used that machine to make curtains, bedspreads, baby quilts, little matching shirts for birthday boys, frilly little dress-up dresses, Halloween costumes, to decorate burp cloths, and most recently to create my own cloth diapers.

My Meme, did not get to hold her great-grandchilden but she has been a part of their lives through the gifts and lessons that she gave to me.  So, every time that I sit down to sew, crochet, or do any type of craft, (which isn't that often these days...haha), I think of my Meme and the way her hands not only created but how they willingly gave as well.


  1. what a beautiful post and tribute to your meme! and what a treasured gift that you get to interact with on a regular basis... they don't make machines like they used too.

  2. Oh my goodness, sitting here drinking my coffee this morning, saw this and time stood still. You took me on a trip back through time. All of the memories you talked about so brought her back to life - I can hear her laughter and those "words" she used to say. I was in her house, her apartment - too many memories to even begin. I think of her often. I have taken up beading embroidery and everyday when i sit down to work I think of Mozelle and Irene making draperies, quilts and all the other many talented things they did. Seems all the Caywood women have many many talents. Sharing with others quietly is one of the biggest. Thanks so much for the trip back, Allison. They are all still very much alive to me!