A Grandmother’s Legacy

My mother was an artist from the time she was a young girl living in the hardscrabble land of the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the 1920’s and 30’s. After spending her early years in a one-room country school, she attended St. Ignace High School for several years until her parents moved to the lower peninsula of Michigan, where she graduated from high school.

When she was young, she started drawing and writing. I’m very blessed to have in my possession a number of short stories and notebooks of her drawings. She was especially interested in drawing women with their hair and clothing in various styles of the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. She was good!

Later, after becoming a parent, she started creating homemade gifts when we were children. We were dirt-poor at that time and our one gift for our birthday was often handmade. One year I got a cardboard paper doll and numerous paper dresses, skirts and blouses etc. complete with the tabs that I could bend over the shoulder and around the waist to keep the outfit on my paper doll. She used water colors to complete the look of the doll and clothes.

While mom was raising us kids in our early years, she started taking an art class through the mail. Now we would probably take such a class online, but in the 1950’s everything was done through the mail. Mom spent hours doing the lessons and sending them out only to get them back in a few weeks with suggested changes so that she could learn. This course really helped her hone her drawing and sketching skills.

When I was ten-years-old mom went back to school – both teaching in a one-room country school and working on her bachelors and then master’s degree. Her degrees from Eastern Michigan University were in Early Elementary Education, and Art. I don’t remember the exact name of the degrees, but many of her art projects were connected with the elementary education studies. She taught second grade for many years and for a while taught an after school art class. She had the coolest room in the elementary school where she worked until retirement. She always posted holiday themed decorations and artwork by her students and herself.

Later, on the home front, she spent hours teaching my daughters how to decorate cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. They worked on art projects, drawing and painting.


What pleases me now is that my daughter has passed that love of creation on to my grandson. You should see the PlayDoh creations she comes up with, the cakes, cupcakes, and cookies that she creates with David’s help. I love that she spends hours with her son teaching him how to create through various media.

Unfortunately, Mom passed away before her first great-grandchild was born. I don’t know if my daughter would have done these things without the hours she spent with her grandmother, but I would like to think that Mom played a huge part in how much time her granddaughter and great-grandson spend building unique creations. I do know she would have been very proud!

What legacy are you passing on to your children and grandchildren? Do you have a creative side that you could share, that will bring them warm memories long after you are gone?

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