Pinch of Faith: My grandmothers taught me to follow my dreams

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As a little girl, my grandmothers each had a strong influence on my life. 

My mother’s mother, Maggie, was a social butterfly, and although she worked full time, she always made time to play canasta or bingo with her family and friends. 

She was a very methodical person, so when she decided to take up the game of bridge, she took lessons.  She tediously marked her bridge book with tabs and notations on each of the pages. 

After several weeks of classes, my mother, cousin, and I invited her to join us at the bridge table. She hesitated for a moment before taking her seat at the only remaining chair, clearly flummoxed about something. When we pressed her for some insight to what might be bothering her, she replied, “I can’t sit here because this is the east position and I’m only familiar with playing north’s hand.”  

The handbook disappeared and we never witnessed her in action so assume she never got to sit in the north chair.

Maggie did not cook, do needlework, or collect anything but dust bunnies. Her hobbies were few, but she managed to stay busy and attended a lot of meetings. She embodied grace, charm, and love and was always set on “go.”  It was Maggie who took me downtown on the bus to see “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Bambi,” and any animated movie that I desired to see. We went to the circus together, and it was she who taught me how to make a monthly budget and to write checks.  When I had my own children, she was my ever eager and willing babysitter.

Daddy’s mother, on the other hand, was a legendary Italian cook who always had a project going. She loved to crochet, needlepoint, and do any kind of sewing. Every baby in the family was the recipient of Mamie’s booties and at least one afghan.   

An avid football fan, she spent every Saturday afternoon in front of the television in her sunroom, her hands busily engaged in her latest creation. Also working full time, Grandma prepared dinner each night and still made time to play cards with her “Sisters of the Skillet.” 

When my daddy was stationed in California during WWII as an aircraft mechanic, my mother wanted to join him, so I lived with my father’s parents and entered kindergarten at home. Grandma taught me to embroider tea towels and the basics of a crochet chain stitch. It was the beginnings of my lifelong attempt to cultivate a hobby of my own. 

I asked Santa Claus for a red metal loom one year and immersed myself in making potholders for every member of the family.  Mama finally had to dissuade me from doing more, as we had a surplus on hand.  

I abandoned my loom for a crochet hook and was thrilled to advance from the chain stitch to a single, then a double crochet. The first afghan I undertook was beginning to take shape, so I proudly showed it to Grandma Mamie, who carefully studied it, making notes as she examined my work in progress. It took me a while to complete my project, due to dropped stitches and other mishaps, but when I brought it back to Grandma, she had completed two of the same pattern, and had number three under construction. All done without the aid of printed instructions.

Over the years, I have attempted numerous hobbies, some of which I still do. Many, however, have been miserable failures and give me some concern that I might be missing some sort of gene. Needlepoint and smocking caused me so much angst that I swore off of them. Gardening without benefit of a green thumb proved disastrous, and I still have scars from burns I suffered from a crafting glue gun. I was a terrible golfer, and the inexpensive wine I drank would never pass the true taster test.

One of my dear friends loves to paint and can spend hours in her painting room at her house. I admire her talent and dedication to her hobby. Through trial and error, I have learned that my most satisfying and productive hobby is writing so that is what I have happily accepted. Even if no one reads what I write, which I sincerely hope they will, it is my creative niche. 

Apologies to Maggie and Mamie for all your efforts, but you each certainly prepared me well for following my heart and my dreams in life.

Copyright © 2023 Mary Margaret Lambert

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