Through the 38 years of my marriage to Bob, I can’t begin to count the number of knitted, crocheted, and sewn gifts our family has been blessed with. My mother-in-law had such talent and creativity. I had a heavy sweater with my favorite activity at the time, bowling on it. My kids had everything from Strawberry Shortcake to skating to unicorns on theirs. And of course, each time they outgrew one, they got a new one. Bob had one with a sports car on it. These sweaters are warm enough to be a coat. In fact, I didn’t buy a coat for any of us for years. She made afghans, dish cloths, pot holders, and so much more. We were so blessed to have all the things she made.
For many years, my sisters-in-law, Debbie and Brenda, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, put their crafts in the multiple craft fairs around town and did quite well on sales with them. Everyone of them made things that were different from the others. And we have all benefited from all of them. It is always such a blessing when you don’t have to buy the things you need, because someone loves you enough to just give you the things you need.
My mother-in-law has been doing these things for most of her married life of 63 years, and in reality, still does them…but now it is in her memory. If you ask her what she did today, she will tell you that she made a few dish cloths. You might as well not argue with her, because in reality she did. She may not have used a crochet hook and yarn, but she did crochet the dish cloths. She uses the end of her shirt, and the oxygen tubing that she is holding. You might have to look closely, but if you do, you can see that she is wrapping the yarn around an imaginary hook, and she is very careful not to lose a stitch. If you ask her to do something with her hands, she really can’t, because letting go of her crocheting would result in lost stitches. The only solution is t o remove the crocheting from her hands, while reassuring her that you will make sure you don’t lose any stitches, and then she will do what you are asking…at least until her crocheting miraculously comes back into her hands again.
It is somewhat rare to be able to take pictures of five generations of a family. Many people are able to take four generation pictures, but five is not always possible. When my two oldest grandchildren were just babies, we were able to get that picture that so many people would love to have. The pictures we took were and are pictures we will always treasure.
Many people think that five generation pictures represent the ability to live long lives, and that is true, but so much more is represented in those treasured pictures. Five generations represents the wisdom of age being passed down from generation to generation, and that is exactly what we did have in our family. Things like the ability to grow your own food in a garden or raise cattle, chickens, and horses. The ability to knit, sew, embroider, and crochet things like clothing, blankets, table cloths, pillow cases, and so much more. It was these abilities being taught by the older generation to the next, and the next, and the next generation. What a blessing to have these things taught to a great grandchild, who can then teach it to their child, grand child, and great grandchild. A child learning from its parent, who learned from their parents, and grandparents.
So much wisdom and knowledge has been passed down this way. In fact, we would not know how to do many things that we know, were it not for the generations the came before us. When I look at these pictures, I remember the things we learned for Bob’s grandparents. From card games played out between ruthless partners, to recipes like Grandma’s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam…which was the best jam I have ever tasted. It’s almost as if the wisdom and knowledge of the prior generation has been entrusted to the next generation to pass on to the future generations. Our grandparents and great grandparents have given us the best that was in them, in the hope that through us, they might live on. It is almost a sacred trust.
Since the time of these pictures, the babies have reached the age of 16, and Grandma has since passed away. Her words, stories, wisdom, knowledge, and especially her love continue to live on in my memory. She was a very special lady, and I only wish my grandchildren could have known her…not just have been in a picture with her. She lived so much of the history they only know from books, and she could have taught them so much. Unfortunately, the miles that separated us from her, made any real relationship with her impossible during their early years, and before they were old enough to remember her much, she was gone. She passed away on March 28, 1998, just 2 years and one month after the birth of those babies. I just hope that the things she taught her son, my father-in-law, who taught his son, my husband, can be remembered by his children, my daughters, to pass on to their children, my grandchildren, and to their children, and their children, and on into the generations beyond.
Growing up on ranches and around horses, my mother-in-law felt very at home on the back of a horse. She loved them, and really still does today. Western shows are her favorite shows, other than game shows and of course, the rodeo. In her mind, the drama of a cop show, or the laughs of a comedy, can’t even begin to measure up.
For me, it is very hard to imagine her in that type of life. I have been her daughter-in-law for almost 37 years now. That was all after the years that she had and rode horses. She was a skilled seamstress, could knit and crochet with the skill of a professional. She supplemented the family income with the clothing she made and the sewing repairs she did. She also grew a garden and canned vegetables. That is the person I knew as my mother-in-law for many years. She was a capable homemaker and mother.
So much has changed since those years. Alzheimer’s Disease has take most of what she once was. These days, the knitting needles lay quietly in a box somewhere, as do the crochet hooks. They have moved to town now, so there is no more garden or canning, and she would not remember how to do those things anyway. She often talks about sewing on a button or making a shirt, but I’m sure she would not remember how to do those things anymore. She doesn’t remember how to drive, and would not know where to go if she did try to drive.
So much confuses her these days. She remembers her family on most days, but thinks that my grown daughters, who have both been married for more than 16 years and have teenaged children, should still be in high school. In fact, all of her grandchildren should be too young to be married, although most of them are married and have been for some time.
Age changes us all, but when Alzheimer’s Disease comes into the picture, the changes are so cruel. The person knows things aren’t right, but they are powerless to change the situation. It scares them sometimes, because they suddenly don’t know where they are…and they are in their own house. They don’t feel safe going places, because they no longer know where they are going, and as time goes on, they aren’t sure who is taking them, and it is their own family. Yes, everyone changes as they age, but for some people, it can be traumatic. Alzheimer’s Disease is an ugly thief…it steals it’s victims mind and eventually every other part of their body. I hope someday they will find a cure.