Grandmothers–Memories of Sadie

Each of us has that someone special that makes us smile when we think of them.  I can remember both of my grandmothers with fondness.  My paternal grandmother lived In the same town as I did so I saw her almost every day.

This post was written by Connie Formby who allows us to vividly remember Sadie, her grandmother.

ConnieConnie lives in Fort Worth and spends her time with her husband Grant, a pastor and accomplished chef, and her two dogs, Lady and Sadie. (Yes, named in fond memory of her grandmother.) She loves working in the yard and creative sewing in her spare time.

Grab your favorite beverage, sit back and remember Sadie, She is sure to warm your heart.

The vision of her short stout stature sitting on the chair in front of her sewing machine is as clear today as the figure that sat before me in the small rural neighborhood in which we lived in Pennsylvania. Cattle grazed just on the other side of the fence bordering the backyard we viewed through her bedroom window. She lived with her cousin while we lived in a house just four streets away. As an older child, I could walk to her house to visit my grandmother.  

grandmother sewing 4The room was simply decorated. A glass plaque, hand painted in her favorite color purple, hung on one wall. On another wall hung her heavy round mirror, (a cherished treasure I have ownership of today), bordered with a hand painted quote. A light colored wooden dresser with a lamp sat between her bed and her sewing machine, and a rug lay on the floor. Simple curtains framed the one bedroom window. The hum of the sewing machine, the sun coming in the window; the contented smile on Sadie’s face, something about her stirred a connection I had yet to understand.   

For hours unending as a child, within this environment, I sat silent on her bed. Few words were ever spoken. They did not need to be.  A thread of communication was stitching our hearts together where our spirits had already met.  

She reflected both a deep love for me and a very dark distance from my life because by that time she had already lived through hardship unimaginable to me. No one meant more to me than Sadie. Our quiet hours shared, Sadie at her sewing machine and me on her bed lost in a world of colors, textures, compositions, and the shapes of her buttons poured from a collection of cookie tins onto her white Chenille bedspread. Sometimes she sang from her heart or laughed, more to herself than to me, as her mind followed the threads of memory through the fabric of her life to church and her childhood. The sound of her voice warmed my heart as she sang her beloved songs.  It seemed to me, happiness came to her when she was transported to a happier place or time across the threshold into her world of sewing or music. She was not especially talented as a singer, yet even today I hear her voice as she passionately sang her beloved songs.

Somehow I know she holds a place in the heavenly choirs of angels. It is as if I can see her there. As a seamstress, she was quitesewing with grandmother 9 talented, often making her own patterns. She would lovingly hand craft clothing for herself, my mother, my two sisters and me.

Silently, a transcendent force deep within myself was guiding me to be like her.  It was never a conscious decision. It was a choice made involuntarily and genetically.  I was influenced spiritually by simply spending time with her, being close to her and learning to love her deeply.  

Time spent in grandma’s room wove threads of cherished memories which formed the tapestry of my life. Quiet aloneness became the atmosphere in which I made a spiritual connection with sewing.  Seemingly endless threads of color, texture, shape and composition comprised the myriad of components of sewing. Each one was somehow woven into my heart. I became passionately connected, all the while never losing touch with the intangible force which led me there.   

In these times of aloneness, her spirit tenderly led me to a place which remains a place of sweet quietness and peace. Contentment and inspiration, from a greater being than mankind, flows out of this place as I apply the gift passed down to me through the spirit of my grandmother. The life flowing through her veins was her love and ability to make clothing.

Through my veins flows a passion for artistry through fabric applique or creating pictures out of fabric. As I view each developing “canvas” before me, I easily recall her connection to the different stages of the process each time she made a garment.   

I did not understand her paranoid schizophrenia and it hurt deeply when she would leave and visit that side of her life. She was incredibly sad and troubled in this place that was so unknown by me. She cried often and said many things I could not comprehend. I hurt for her and as the years went by, I longed to reach her to bring her back. I felt as though the scissors used to cut out her wonderful clothing creations was being applied to my heart cutting away someone I felt attached to like the other half of the piece of fabric being cut. As a child I missed her and did not understand when they took her to the hospital. I missed our times together.  I missed her tins full of buttons. I missed my place of escape.  

grandmother sewing 7It is interesting how life turns. After years of spending hours on grandma’s bed with her buttons, grandma had the opportunity to share a bedroom with me. These memories are priceless treasures to me. Yet pulling at my heart strings are the heavy memories of an increasing number of times she would leave and go to her place of deep sadness and darkness. I longed for a better understanding of who she was. I was angry because I could not reach her or reason with her. I did not understand her or the thief who continued to take her away.  

In our room were two sewing machines. Stitched by these cords of memories are the pictures I cherish of both of us sewing at sewing with grandmother 8the same time.  First, I recall the Christmas prior to starting Kindergarten. I received a pink sewing machine in its own small wooden carrying case with decoupage pictures on the outside. When led by her love and guidance, joy and pride surged through my being as I sat beside her sewing small simple clothing articles.  Many years later while sewing my own clothing beside grandma, I experienced the same feelings of pride and joy.

Often during these times, I was able to invite Sadie to revisit her childhood and happier days. Side by side as I led her back to the happier times, she recounted for me what she remembered.  Orchestrated with the patterned hum of the sewing machines was the duet of our laughter. Through the stories she recounted came a clear picture of the creative and colorful person Sadie was.  I loved the happy, creative, mischievous, and witty person she was in the stories. This Sadie was an Ann of Green Gables sort of person.  Sitting by her I watched as the threads of memory spun a web that captured an account. One day, in the one room schoolhouse, while studying Science, her stoic elementary school teacher asked the class if anyone could identify the crusts of the earth. Sadie quickly raised her hand. With a smile on her face, she wittingly responded, “bread crust and pie crust.”  She was promptly reprimanded. It was my pleasure to experience some of this playful side throughout my years with her.  

grandmother sewing 6When Sadie was taken to the nursing home to live, I missed her.  For the years she was there, I visited her whenever I had the opportunity to return to Pennsylvania. When she passed away, I was left without a very dear friend. However the gift of her spirit remains in me and continues to live through me, expressed through each picture this artist paints, using the mediums of a sewing machine, fabric, buttons, and thread.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Remembering those that made an impact on you are wonderful memories.  I smile when I remember “MeMaw” and “Grandma Ruth”.

2015-2016 Dallas Black Dance Theatre

THE DALLAS BLACK DANCE THEATRE’S 2015-2016 SEASON

dallas black dance theater 2
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

One of my favorite things to go to is the performances that the Dallas Black Dance Theatre puts on each year.  They have just announced their 2015-2016 season which they have titled “VISION RENEWED”. The Dallas Black Dance Theatre is Dallas’ longest continuously operating dance company.

dallas black dance theater 3
TruPhotography by Jamie Truman

This will be their 39th season which speaks volumes of the following that the company has.  This year as they have in the past, the company will perform at their home base, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre.  They will also perform at Dallas City Hall and bring their performances to Fort Worth and Richardson before going to other cities including, Denver, Colorado and even traveling internationally to Matamoros, Mexico, Belize City, Belize and Iquique, Chile.

Subscriptions are now on sale with single tickets going on sale September 10, 2015.  Tickets can be purchased by calling the AT&T Performing Arts box office at (214) 880-0202 or http://www.attpac.org.

To see a list of performances and times, go to http://www.dbdt.com.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”–why not dance?

Photo by Sharen Bradford--The Dancing Image
Photo by Sharen Bradford–The Dancing Image

The Saga Of The Bra Fitting

When you decide that  you are going to let your new gray neighbors meet the rest of the neighborhood, you must take other things into consideration–jewelry, attitude, clothing fit and more.  Gray hair does not make you look old, but if you have gray hair and the girls (breasts) are not bra fit 4sitting right, then you need to find your correct bra size.

I can remember when Oprah had a person who came on the show and measured her–even Oprah needed some help.  So if Ms. O needs a little help, maybe we do to.

After a month of mammograms, sonograms and MRI’s I decided that the “girls” could use a new dress or two. What I did was to go to a store–Dillard’s to find a person to measure me correctly.  You need someone who has the time to actually measure you, and talk with you about what you are looking far.

All women know that  shoe size changes because our feet change.  The maker of the shoes may make them differently.  Maybe you gained and/or lost weight, that affects your shoe size.  The maker of the shoes could be the problem.  You can wear one size by one designer, but another size with another designer. That’s the way it is in bra sizing. You’ve changed, and so have the “girls”.  Sizing can vary by brands and/or type as the picture below illustrates.

bra fit 9

That’s what happens to the “girls”.  You’ve had children, you gained and/or lost weight, you do weight training (which helps to keep the girls perky) and you are over the age of 35. Some people suggest you measure yourself at least once a year.

After you find the correct fit and make your purchase, it is important that you take care of your bras.  Most women do not hand wash anything now.  If you are washing bras along with everything else you need to put them in a lingerie bag and wash them on the delicate cycle.  This will help the bra keep its shape.  If you have a place to let them dry naturally that will help with the longevity of the bras.

I decided it was time to buy, and lo and behold, the bra lady as I like to call her was my former student.  She measured, looked and remeasured.  Then came back with a group of bras for me to try on.  The very first one was not what she thought it should be.  Even though it was the size she measured, she did not like the fit.  She had me raise my arms up, then outward, she tugged on straps–then went outside and came back with a different size in the same bra.

After the initial sticker shock (I am a bargain shopper) I left Dillard’s with new Wacoal bras, to go along with my clean report from the mammograms, sonograms and the MRI’s.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Don’t forget to have your girls checked out.

Rejuvenation Is A Necessity

Sometimes you just need to find a place to relax away from home.  My hubby and I have found that in Bella Vista, Arkansas.  It’s beautiful and quiet.  It gives us time to calm down from the hustle of every day life. One of my favorite places is nearby–Crystal Bridges Museum.  I truly love this museum, it is an afternoon in itself, and this time there was an Andy Warhol and Jamie Wyeth exhibit being featured. Since another couple went with us this time, we went back to Fayetteville to visit the University of Arkansas, and stumbled upon their downtown square–which was really nice.  We then found the Clinton House which is where Bill and Hillary lived while they worked at the University of Arkansas. I stood in the kitchen where Bill cooked dinner. It also features the beautiful First Ladies Garden which showcases each first lady with their favorite flower.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Sometimes you need the quiet.