Thursday, March 10, 2011
Writer's Workshop: A Memorable Neighbor
When I was 18 my parents moved from my hometown in the Great Frozen North. Their new next-door neighbor was an older, never-married lady named Leah.
Leah was something else. She was tough and independent, and still mowing her own lawn into her 80s. And she was a talker. Whew, was she ever a talker! And I know a thing or two about being a talker! But she had a good heart and she and my parents watched out for each other.
Leah also was an avid crafter. Dolls, doll clothes, Christmas ornaments, anything she could glitter or sequin, you name it and she did it. We were pretty convinced you could bedazzle the world with the glitter and sequins that were permanently lodged in the shag carpeting in her house.
One of Leah's specialties was Christmas stockings. She made beautiful, sequined (hand-sewn, not glued!) felt stockings. She was tickled pink when my parents moved into the house next door and she had an excuse to make stockings for so many people. She made a stocking for my mom and dad and every one of their children, childrens' spouses and grandchildren. In the end that totaled 42 Christmas stockings. Forty-two! And none of them are the same.
As soon as Leah found out I was pregnant with triplets she immediately made three stockings. They were done well before the babies arrived, just waiting for us to name the little ones so she could embroider their names on the stockings.
Amelia, Sam, Isaac and Alex with the family's Christmas stockings ~ December 2009
Leah was thrilled about Jeff and I having triplets. My parents took her pictures after the boys were born and the stockings came in the mail just about a week later. In fact, Leah often referred to the boys as "my babies."
By the time the boys were about nine months old, Leah was in the nursing home and her health was failing. We took our big trip back to the Great Frozen North that summer, and stopped at my parents' place along the way. Of course, we took the Amelia and boys in their stroller to the nursing home so Leah could finally meet them.
She was so excited. Everyone who came into the lounge was greeted with, "Have you seen my babies? Come see my babies!" Honestly, she couldn't have been prouder of those kids if they were her own. That was the only time she got to see the boys, since she passed away not long after that, well into her 90s.
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of Leah with the boys and Amelia. I forgot my camera that day, and the opportunity was lost forever. Fortunately, we have our beautiful Christmas stockings to remind us of her every year.
Well, that and a 47-pound box of sequins, pipe cleaners, glue-on eyes and glitter that my mom brought me after she helped clean out Leah's house. Every time we get the craft box out a large percentage of it ends up on my floor. That, too, is a fitting way to remember Leah.