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The legacy of my Mamaw

About a month ago, my last living grandparent passed away.  She was 95 years old, and I called her “Mamaw”.  

F. Brownfield, 1920-2015

From as far back as I can remember, my Mamaw has been my creative encourager.  She was a painter and loved painting scenes of the Texas Hill Country and most of all, blue bonnets.  She did gorgeous oil paintings, water colors, and acrylics, and even dabbled  in some mixed media.  

Even though my Mamaw was primarily a painter, she was an amazing crafty person and sewist.  She could look at an outfit in a store and draft her own pattern and make something that looked even better.  When I would get to visit her, she would take me to museums and would set me up in her painting and sewing room with art supplies.  It makes me a little sad that I didn’t realize what an asset she was to me at the time and that I didn’t ask for her to teach me.  I did really enjoy every moment spent with my Mamaw, and I know I didn’t take it for granted that I had her in my life.  

She inspired me to take art classes at a young age and had such a determination about life that I only hope I have some of that in me.  

I can only hope that I live to 95.  My Mamaw had an amazing life and traveled and loved and lived well.  Before my Papaw had passed, my Mamaw affectionately called him her “Cutie-cute”.  My family and I attended the memorial service last month, and I hadn’t prepared myself to start going through her personal things, but that’s what had to be done.  It’s really weird to think that once your life ends, the pieces left behind are just an echo of yourself–purchases you made, things you planned to finish, books you read…It happened that I am the only person with an interest in sewing/quilting in our family.  As a result, I ended up taking home my Mamaw’s sewing machines.  I don’t really plan to ever use them, but just having them around me is comforting.  To have items that a loved one used to create things and see them every day is a sweet reminder of what my Mamaw means to me.  I had so many cute little outfits when I was younger that she had made me on those sewing machines.  Even though we had an idea that the end might be in sight for her, it didn’t prepare me for the loss I felt when she passed.  I guess having some of these things, along with patterns that her handwriting is on comforts me in a small way.  

I’m not sure that Mamaw ever used this machine a lot…she also had a Necchi and a Kenmore that were probably around 80’s models.  I believe this is a 1947 model featherweight, based off of the serial number.  

And then some of the books that she had written in out to the side…you can obviously tell this is totally in style right now 😉

I know that my Mamaw left a huge legacy and I hope that my life has as much meaning as hers does.  The impact she had on so many people and the artwork she created will inspire future generations.  Maybe one day I’ll have a daughter (or son) who will have the creative bug and appreciate some of the things she created as much as I do.  My second cousin presented Mamaw’s eulogy at the memorial, and described Mamaw as “a tough broad”, which couldn’t be more true.  From losing both of her parents at a young age, weathering the storm of the great depression, raising a family, going back to school to get her bachelors degree and become a teacher, travelling the world, there were many things she overcame and had a can-do attitude about everything.  She didn’t dwell on things that she couldn’t change, and she worked to change the things she could.  I feel lucky that she was my grandma, and even though saying goodbye is hard, I know she’s in heaven with my Papaw…he’s fishing and she’s painting up a storm.