I feel so blessed to have grown up with 2 sets of wonderful grandparents. My grandfathers were pretty amazing in their own right, but it was my grandmothers who helped fuel my passion for making things.
I wish I had more photos of their creations, but in my younger years, I didn’t see the importance of documenting those things that one day would be lost forever. When you’re young, you can’t imagine that anything ever will change. But change they do, and you wish you’d paid more attention and had had more conversations and had asked more questions…questions like, “What was my daddy like when he was a kid?” and “Where did my mother’s black hair come from?”
My mother’s mother, Agnes Dorothy Holmes Bates, or Mama Agnes as we knew her, was always making something or growing something. I’ve never met anyone with quite the green thumb she had. I do believe she could have planted a rock & it would have grown & bloomed the most beautiful blooms you ever beheld. Then, she would have taken those blooms & effortlessly arranged them into beautiful flower arrangements to be enjoyed for days.
I remember specifically that she enjoyed making Christmas ornaments, little felt ornaments with lots of sequins & glitter & seed beads. I have an old gift box filled with materials she used to make these ornaments. Sometimes, I pull it out and sit on the floor in my studio and look through it, remembering walking into her house in the wintertime, seeing Mama Agnes sitting at the dining table surrounded by all her ornament-making supplies, a big pot of soup merrily simmering on the stove. Inevitably, she invited me to sit with her and help with whatever part of the ornament she happened to be making at the time. Such wonderful memories!
When she was in her 60’s, Mama Agnes decided she wanted to learn to oil paint. These are some of her paintings I have hanging in my home.
She took lessons for several years from a sweet lady named Violet. I wish Violet could know how special she was to Mama Agnes and to so many other “little ladies” she taught.