i started to change directions with my paintings today for the upcoming girly show when i came across a box of my grandmother’s sewing labels “specially designed and handmade by eleanor hillman” and other vintage sewing ephemera from my mom.
i started to collage bits of these found objects and realized that it is also “girly” and true to my story… just as my lace elephants are. i need not be so literal.
i remember my grandmother so clearly even though she died when i was five. not too long after this picture, i imagine, since i was close to five in it at my pre-school graduation. i remember the way her soap smelled. the way she played with me and let me cut up my papa’s socks to make puppets. shortly after i cut up my mom’s socks to make more puppets (all of them i believe, even the nice wool ski socks) and received my first and only spanking that i can recall. i didn’t make the connection that i had probably been using holey, lost of the pair socks, of my papa’s. i now see the connection of re-inventing a sock into a lion puppet and a lace doily an elephant…
i think we lived with my grammie for a bit after my dad died (her youngest son). i remember her trying to convince me to go to bed during the summer, when it was light later and i would not have it. it’s still light out, i want to go play! i remember lying in bed with my yellow polyester nightgown that had a bear on it that said “bear belly”. i remember i was allowed to eat sugar cereal, specifically honey, nut cheerios.
i remember visiting her in florida where they wintered, disneyland, the works and how we were riding our bikes and she fell off. i remember being whisked away by a woman with a bathrobe who fed me giant whoppie pies. i remember thinking that i had killed my grandmother when she died soon after from a heart attack, that resulted from complications from her hip surgery, soon after the bike accident. why wasn’t i a better biker? why did i let her fall?
i believe i had complicated feelings around death at that point, having also lost my dad. i remember being excited at her funeral to wear my new blue dress and play with my cousin susan. i remember sticking a rose between her fingers. i remember all of this and she is still part of me. her lineage, love and lessons of art and craft at such a formative age.