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Jan 22, 2014

Aprons and Memories

I've never been a collector. 
No collections of figurines or dishes or stamps or crystal or any such thing adorn our mantel or shelves.
Books, really.  That would be about the only thing I own a lot of, things I love to display and have surrounding me. But that's more to do with my love of reading and imagination than with collecting.
But I think yesterday I found something I might like to collect. 
There are so many adorable, functional and totally not functional aprons at my favorite home stores.  I always notice them and stop to admire their fun colors and styles.  But I think my main draw to them is what they represent to me.
When I think about all the time we spent at my grandparents' house as we were growing up, the image that rushes forward in my mind is my grandma wearing her smock apron.  The woman was always cooking and cleaning, interrupted only by the momentary indulgence of a cup of coffee or iced tea and her afternoon soap opera.  Most of my memories of her are tied very strongly to noodles and Vienna bread and bacon and eggs and salmon patties (yuck) and cookies and roasts and all the other wonderful food she made for us all, which was her way of showing love, I think.  She was happiest in her kitchen cooking up a storm for a crowd of people.  I also have many memories of pulling along her old canister vacuum as she swept, helping her dust her Hummels, the smell of starch as she ironed grandpa's shirts with us playing in the basement around her.  And in every warm and wonderful memory, she's wearing that apron. 
Mom wears an apron when she's baking and cooking too, a habit I'm sure she picked up from her mother and grandmothers.  As a kid "helping" Mom in the kitchen, I remember thinking how happy and beautiful she always looked when she had her hands in a big batch of floured dough for a pie she was making or a batch of noodles that would soon be laying out to dry on every flat surface of our house.  Even with a little flour streaked across her nose or cheek, she was still the most beautiful woman my little eyes had ever seen.  I mean, no one can beat that woman's smile.  And that hasn't changed a bit through all these years.  I think those memories of her baking in her apron have stuck with me because I recognized the joy she so obviously felt when she was baking.  She is a gifted baker.  I'm sure her confidence in this area brought her joy.  And I think she enjoys the actual process of baking, measuring and mixing and creating the sweet goodness like only she can.  But her biggest smile always came upon seeing how much we all enjoyed what she had made. My mother standing there in an apron, her face glowing with a floured cheek and a smile that could light up a room...she shows her love in many wonderful ways.  And this is one of them.
Yeah.  That's what aprons represent to me...
Warmth and love and fun and comfort and home and my grandma and my mom.       
This is my old apron. My old stained, well used and loved, colorful apron that I have worn for many years. It's dingy and tattered, even with the myriad washings and bleachings it's received. I love this old apron. And I'm sure I won't throw it away now that I've found a replacement. It may become my very first entry into my apron collection, should I seriously decide to start one.  
My old faithful apron has been replaced by this fully functional, adorable apron, complete with a detachable towel, which is so genius I can even begin to describe.  It was a whopping $7 at one of my favorite stores, Home Goods, and is my muse for the possibly of beginning a collection.    

Yes, Molly.  I am fully aware that this apron business, especially when combined with my graying-haired self knitting in the rocking chair in the corner of my dining room with a heating pad on my back, oldies on the radio (and sometimes a chicken roasting in the oven and a cup of tea on the table beside me), officially makes me an old lady.

I'm owning that. :) 

I'm an old lady who would rather cook in my apron and knit blankets in a rocking chair than do much of anything else the "kids these days" are into. Lol.  I'm lame.  And I'm proud of it.   

And I want my kids to have similar memories of me in my apron as I do of my mom and grandma in theirs.

Yep, all that came from a $7 apron at Home Goods.  :) 

Jan 13, 2014

Strong and Beautiful at 92!

We've had the sickness at my house since late December, when a nasty little stomach virus hit us all at varying days and degrees. It started with Lena and then every couple of days another one of us would go down.  It wasn't nearly as bad as some I've heard about, thank God, but it was exhausting and I'm over it. Seeing my babies sick and scared, sleeping on the bathroom floor with them, all the while feeling like a truck ran over me, but still having to clean and launder until my fingers cracked. 
Yeah.  I'm definitely over it. 
Here Miles is demonstrating how the Coles rang in the first week of the new year - passed out from exhaustion in front of the fire.  Could be worse. :)
This week is probably the first week we've all felt fully healthy again, except for my poor Rich.  He has a nasty abscessed tooth that has caused him all sorts of pain and sleeplessness.  This morning his face was so swollen on that side that he looked like he had puffy jowls...poor man.  He needs a root canal, but has to get rid of the infection first.  They moved his appointment up to today since he's suffering so much.  We're praying for sweet relief. 
Anyway, Saturday, the kids and I (sans poor sleep-deprived Rich, who stayed home to rest) met a whole gaggle of family at Der Dutchman in Plain City for Grandma's 92nd birthday luncheon! Oh what fun we had laughing and talking and eating and celebrating this strong beautiful woman's 92nd birthday. 
I mean, just look at her.  Does she look 92 to you?  Not to me! 

As I looked around the LONG table filled with cousins and aunts and uncles and kids and parents, I wondered at the series of decisions and actions and mistakes and surprises that happened throughout my grandparents' lives that allowed us all to come into existence, that eventually led to us all sitting there at that long table filled with a joyful family at that moment.  I wondered if Grandma ever sits back at family gatherings like that and thinks that all this came from her and, before her, from our ancestors. 

It's even more staggering to think of every single seemingly insignificant thing that had to happen in our ancestors' lives to get us to the place each of us is today. The things they overcame, changed, dreamed of, worked hard for.  Their struggles and triumphs and failures and successes give worth and weight to our own lives.  It makes our being born seem to have a purpose greater than any we can understand. 

I remember gazing down at my newborn babies as they nursed feeling such a part of it all suddenly.  Such a part of this family, of its history. So connected to my great aunt Lena, whose name lives on in my daughter.  So connected to those ancestors I've only heard fuzzy stories about, and even to the nameless ancestors whose stories have been forgotten... 

But they are never truly forgotten, are they? I might not have the names and stories from each of their lives but, because of them, I have Sam and Lena.  And they are a part of them.  And their stories live and breathe within them. 

That's astounding.  And humbling. 

Grandma is our oldest living family member now.  She is our history and our beginning and our past and our future all wrapped up in one woman who has added to the world some damn good people.  I hope she feels pride in that.  And peace in that. 

We all love you and are so grateful for you, Grandma.