I am blessed to have so many great women in my life who have nurtured me, strengthened me, and taught me what they have learned so far in their lives. They all create beauty in their lives in very different ways, and passed on their passions to me. Every time I pick up a needle, till my garden, can pickles, or bake a pie, I think of them.
I crave mulberry jelly and sandplum jelly thanks to one grandmother, who always had homemade cookies in the jar when we came to visit. She also passed on her love for quilting and crocheting. I remember watching her make rag rugs on a loom or working on some lacy tatting for a pillowcase cover or doilie. Her hands were always busy.
I have an excellent pumpkin pie recipe from another grandmother, who also crocheted and played the organ a little bit. We used to giggle, thinking Grandma was silly, but now it’s a great memory. I have memories of a rose garden in her yard, with beautiful flowers in the summertime, and lightning bugs at night.
I sew and embroider well because of my mother’s attention to detail in my projects as I was growing up. I used to grinch and complain because she would make me take out a crooked seam, or take out embroidery stitches because the back side wasn’t as neat and tidy as the front, but it taught me how those little details resulted in a nice piece of clothing or other finished project. And though I don’t seem to have inherited my mother’s artistic abilities, she did teach me to look for beauty in everyday life.
A visit to my mother-in-law’s home always meant a great meal, and I found myself wanting others to feel the same way when they visit my home. She has always shared her love for cooking and homemaking with me as if I was her own daughter.
We live halfway across the country from our family, so on a visit many years ago, my mother-in-law taught me to make galuskies, a type of cabbage roll that is a traditional dish for many family gatherings. To this day I use her recipe when we crave her galuskies here. Though I have tweaked it slightly over the years – a little leaner ground beef, long grain rice instead of short, and less salt – it’s still her recipe. I’m confident that I will never be as good a cook as she is, but that’s cool with me.
It seems that life is coming full circle, and it is time to focus on the simpler things in life. We eat at home more often and are cooking simple meals. We built and grew a garden last year to raise vegetables at home, and preserved much of our harvest for the winter. I have started sewing again and learning to quilt. All of those things bring comfort to me, maybe because they remind me of the homes I grew up in and the women who are so dear to me.
So, thank you for sharing your passions and love through the years. I am a better woman because of you.