Our church had the most talented seamstress as a parishioner. She was the Altar Guild's frequent savior, resuscitating frayed linens with her perfect tiny stitches. Sewing wasn't her only talent. She was also a dedicated cross-stitcher, continuing when that craft has fallen by the wayside in popularity. Both my husband and Primo were beneficiaries of her gifts.
She passed away a month ago today, sadly. Despite her many, many talents, she was not always an easy person to get along with, and she has continued her life habits in death. Her friend and I have been working to get her body released by the hospital so it can be properly interred, because she didn't leave a valid will and it has caused no end of knots trying to get her tiny estate ironed out. Here is my legal Public Service Announcement, on behalf of your loved ones left behind:
- Make a will that is valid under the laws of the state in which you live.
- Make sure your executor knows where the original is.
Given the need to honor her in a timely manner, because we have no idea when this issue is going to be settled, our church held her memorial service in the interim. She truly had no family—born to an unwed mother in the 1930s, she was given to a kindly older woman to raise, who died while Carol was still in her teens. She never married, and she had no children. But she had a church family, and they did her memory proud, showing up in droves for the service and putting on a lovely potluck lunch.
Her executor brought Carol's framed embroidery and cross-stitching pieces to the service, inviting anyone who wanted a momento of Carol to take what they liked. I had my eye on one piece in particular, but held back, waiting to make sure that no one else wanted it. After the crowd cleared out, I was able to claim it, guilt-free and thrilled to have it, because it spoke directly to me:
I have never seen this poem before. Unfortunately Carol did not date it. My best guess is that she worked it in the 1960s or before, because based on other pieces there, she started signing and dating pieces on the work in the early 1970s. It is an unusual combination of embroidery and cross-stitch, which along with the style of the design, leads me to believe that it is on the older side.
The framing job needs to be redone, and the piece itself, which has a stain on it in the right-hand border, could use a little TLC. But I am happy to have such a personal remembrance of Carol, who used to ask me for help interpreting knitting patterns. It was the one needle art that I knew better than she did, so this piece is a particularly fitting reminder of her.
What a perfect way for a crafter to be honored and remembered! I can't think of a nicer memorial to a life's handiwork than to have it displayed at your funeral, for loved ones to choose a piece to remember you by.
Someone, write this down: this is exactly what I want at my funeral, hats and scarves and sweaters spread out for others to take my love and care away with them, to remember me every time they put on gloves or wrap themselves in a shawl to keep warm. Though the hands may have been stilled, the stitches would live on in love, the perfect way to honor the memory of a crafter.