Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Fiddlehead Mittens for Mom

The Fiddlehead Mittens were part of the Southern Cross Fibre “semi-solid” spin along on Ravelry. I just finished them last Friday. I included them in the gift summary in the previous post, but I have a bit more to say…

Fiddleheads Finished

Fiddleheads Finished

Fiddleheads Finished

I’ve been working on these mittens for a couple of months, in between the other Christmas gift knitting and such. You can find more info on the handspun yarn and pattern in this post from November. The fact that I spun seven colors of yarn, combined with the fairisle design and then the lining, made these mittens a bit more involved than some of the other Christmas gift knitting. I didn’t bother to hide the process from my mom, because that would make it harder to get done… and she had no idea they were for her, anyway.

At one point in the spin-along forum on Ravelry, I mentioned something about having to get them done before Christmas. Another member of the forum, said, “Whoa whoa whoa. Are you saying those mitts will be Christmas gifts?!?” I said, “Yes. They’re for my mom. I know it will be hard to give them away… But Moms you know… well, they’re moms.”

Well, that being said, and I’m sure many of you must feel the same way about your moms, I also feel that I haven’t said enough.

"My mom is wonderful."

There. That is what I want to say.

I wish that I could paint a picture to tell you who she is to me. It isn’t an easy thing to convey, but I want to try.

My mom is the next-to-youngest daughter in a Texas farm family who had so many kids that the oldest daughter was married and moved away and having children of her own before the youngest child was born.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Baby Linda Kay with Siblings Virgil, Virginia, and Zula

Mom Fiddlehead Post
With Maternal Grandmother, Siblings and Cousins (Mom front on Grandma’s right, Virgil front left, Mary, Virginia, Zula in back)

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Fourth Grade

Of course, I only know what I’ve been told about Mom’s years on the farm, but basically mom grew up helping with a lot of aspects of providing for the family and herself.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Farm Fresh Eggs Don't Come in Styrofoam Cartons

One of my best memories of visiting Grandma’s house when I was a kid was the fresh bread and homemade butter—from fresh cow’s milk! Yum! Here’s how I remember my Grandma.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Mom’s Mom

Mom was always close with her brother, Virgil, and then, later, his wife, Gail.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Mom and Gail, 1962

Mom went to Texas Women’s College at Denton, studying nursing for a year before marrying my dad. They met at a Valentine’s Dance in 1964 and married that June.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
March 29, 1964

I once asked her why in the world she didn’t finish school. She said, “I went to college to find a husband, and I found one.” I was surprised, and she said, (I’m paraphrasing of course, since this was probably twenty or more years ago), “You have to understand how different things were, then. My family expected me to sit at home and wait for a man to come and find me. Going to college to find a husband was an extremely ambitious thing to do.”

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Mom always said having to wash dishes a lot
meant you were eating well

Enter two kids, almost three years apart. As an Airman in the USAF in the late 60’s and early 70’s, my dad spent a lot of time in Vietnam—among other places, but mainly Vietnam during my first few years of life—and my mom managed us on her own a large part of the time. In the picture below, my mom is wearing a dress she made herself from cloth my dad brought back from overseas.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Someone is Missing From This Group

Mom Fiddlehead Post
There, That’s Better!

For folks that know my family, and me, it may seem “given” that my dad was my role model. He has always loved airplanes, and I was inundated with them, growing up. We lived on or near Air Force bases, giving me a certain perspective somewhat different from average folks. For example, Dad took us for a seemingly random drive, once, parking on a rise outside of the Beale AFB main gate, and it turns out that what I was seeing was the SR-71 take off on its way to do the speed run to London.

Airplanes were a daily site. One of the images that sticks in my mind is the way the B-52 tails looked like shark fins poking up above the horizon as we drove toward the airfield. We went to the base air show every year. Here is a picture of me in a T-38 at one of the shows.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
I Could Barely Peek Out of the Cockpit

Dad worked on R/C models every chance he had, and the whole family got involved to varying degrees.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Learning to Fly at Age 11

Since I turned out to be an aerospace engineer, it’s impossible to argue that my dad and his ways didn’t shape me. If I were a Christmas Cookie, (a sugar cookie, of course) I suppose that would make him the cutter… but my mom made the dough.

In my High School yearbook, there is a section where seniors submit favorite quotes. Mine was, “Can’t never could do anything.” Nobody ever asked me about that. I can remember learning that quote when I was learning to tie my shoes. Literally. Perhaps I had already heard that quote a few times before, but that is the time I remember. I was fussing and trying to get Mom to do it for me, and saying I couldn’t do it. She said, “Can’t never could do anything.” I remember stopping and looking at her and saying, “What?” She repeated it. (Say it out loud to yourself. It sounds weird.) Who or what is the subject of that sentence? Perhaps to a kid just learning to express herself, particularly, the wording seemed odd, and I had to ask myself what the heck that meant. I thought about it a lot. I would think about it more over the years to come, when my mom would offer up the same words, advising me, almost taunting me, challenging me to find a way around something besides resorting to, “Can’t.

When I got into high school, I had already formulated a plan to become an engineer, and I already knew I wanted to go to the best school I could groom myself to get into. The main tenet of the plan was to get straight A’s and become Valedictorian. (When I was a senior, my English teacher reminded me that I had announced my intention to be Valedictorian when I introduced myself in her class at the beginning of freshman year. I had forgotten about that. Or maybe I had just shut it out. What a piece of work. Sheesh.) My plan went along fine until the first quarter of sophomore year, when I got a B in American History. Of course, quarter grades didn’t actually affect GPA. Only semester grades did. We also didn’t have any plusses or minuses. If two quarter grades were different, the LAST one counted, so I could still get an A in my GPA by getting an A the second quarter. Even so, I was horrified. It did not bode well for my plans. When I got home that day, I told my mom about it, and I lay on my bed with the light off until dinner time, brooding. When I came out for dinner, my dad talked to me about it. You have to understand, to start with, that my dad thought I was a little bit too tightly wound. He told me that it was inevitable, and that it would hurt less if I got it over with sooner—if I went into junior or even senior year before it happened, I would just be that much more disappointed. I didn’t take that point of view as at all comforting. I didn’t say much, and neither did my mom. Later, after I had sulked all evening and was getting ready for bed, my mom came in to say goodnight. She said, “The only one that can fix it is you. If you want it, go get it.”

The fact that Mom did not have a high profile “career” did not keep her from teaching me to set the bar high. When she does something, she does it well.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Matching Dresses Made by Mom, 1973

My mom sewed my clothes from the time I was small. My parents gave me my first sewing machine for a birthday when I was in Junior High, and I took Home Ec sewing the summer before 8th grade to get a “crash course.” After that, Mom could help with anything I needed. One time, I was putting sleeves in a blouse, and I had sewn a pleat in the back shoulder. I took it in to my mom (who was also sewing) and showed it to her and asked if I could leave it like that. She said, “If you want to wear it like that, go ahead.” Of course, I didn’t. She taught me that the only one I had to please was me. Here’s a picture of the blouse in question:

Mom Fiddlehead Post
My High School Sophomore Picture, 1983

My mom is my best friend. She always has been. We still get our hair cut together every four weeks.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
That Thing On My Head Is a Hairdryer

Even when I was an, “I know what I’m doing, so don’t tell me anything,” teenager, I was never on the outs with my mom. Of course I disagreed with some things she said or did, but I typically found out fairly shortly that she was right. One time in junior high, I had several friends over for a slumber party. Afterward, my mom told me to be careful of a certain girl, that she was not really my friend and would throw me under the bus (or some such metaphor) when she had the slightest reason to do so. I disagreed with her, and it is the one time I can remember feeling like she, “Didn't get it.” I didn’t appreciate her assessment of my friend (or the implication of my own lack of importance to my supposed friend). But, of course, my mother is and always was extremely astute, and she turned out (unfortunately) to be absolutely, spot-on correct in her assessment. Mom’s advice was always right, even at times I didn’t want to hear it, but she didn’t press me. She told me what she thought and then let me make my own decisions…

I feel that I live a blessed life. In more ways than one, it is the life my mother made me.

Mom Fiddlehead Post
Septermber 18, 2004

I love you, Mom!

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay


Darwin said...

Beautiful tribute to your mother. She enjoyed it a lot.


Ellen said...

That is beautiful, Lisa. It's no wonder you grew into the lovely woman you are. ~Ellen