Monday, August 31, 2009

The Amazing Ima


I can count 5 amazingly talented sewing mentors that have blessed my life. My dear friend Ima is one of them.

Ima was my next door neighbor for 21 years. Like typical New England neighbors, we stayed out of each other's business for many years, but always checked on each other in ice storms, power outages, and the milestones of life. Once my children left for college and life simmered down a bit, I started gardening. Ima would walk by and we would gab away about our last planting endeavors. She taught me most of what I know of gardening. One day she called me over to come get some of the plants she had that needed division. When I got a close up view of her back yard woodland garden, which was never visible from my home, it took everything I had not call up Better Homes and Gardens. She truly had a gift and an eye for texture, color, balance, all of it. Her granddaughter became my daughters best friend. One day I mentioned to her that I was working on my daughter's prom dress. "Oh, you sew? You have to come see my sewing room." Up until that point I never even knew she sewed. Did she sew? OMG, did she sew! Ima had a degree in textiles and clothing design from a University in Texas whose name eludes me. Once graduated she joined the WACS and trained pilots for the war effort. She met her dashing pilot husband while in the service. When the war ended they moved to NY. She went to FIT in the fifties and studied design. She has her custom made Wolf dress form to prove it! She has a lifelong TRUE passion for sewing. Do you believe I was lucky enough to live next door to Ima? I only regret the years we wasted just being busy and not sharing our love for sewing

Ima lost her dear husband a few years back. She is 88 years old, way sharper than I am, lucid, strong (still stacks her cordwood and only heats with wood) and a delight to be around. Ima always has young people around her and they all love being around her.

I moved away four years ago knowing I would never be blessed with a neighbor and friend so special again. We keep in touch. My daughter sees her granddaughter often. Two weeks ago Ima called me and said the decision had been made to sell her home of 40 years, a fabulous home I might add. She said she didn't know anyone who would appreciate her sewing things and would I want them. Would I? Oh, my......we spent this past weekend with Ima and while she has sold all of her antiques at this point, she held on to all of her sewing goodies till I got there. We had an absolute girly blast, full of laughter and giggles. I let her lead the way but the bottom line is she gave it all away, boxes and boxes of fabrics, silks from her trips to the Orient, wools from Pendleton, heirloom fabrics in HUGE amounts. Buttons, metal buttons that can only be described as fine art; tons of bindings, laces, and on and on and on. Oh did I mention the books?

The first time I saw Ima's sewing room I was blown away.I wish I could show you what it was like before the antique merchant ransacked it. First, it was huge. She had SEVEN antique map cabinets. Inside were all her buttons sorted so beautifully. Another map cabinet just held cards and cards of her heirloom french laces. I could go on and on. In the center of the room was a HUGE cutting table made of maple by her husband. Trust me, she designed the perfect cutting table. There is agenerous walk in closet thru a door. In that closet were file cabinets filled with patterns, vintage Vogue designers, vintage childrens clothing, etc. On the right was a ceiling to floor 5 foot wide antique druggist's apothecary cabinet with tons of tiny drawers where snaps, hooks, needles, and all sorts of notions were stored. This closet was lit like daylight and easy to walk around. Shelves went to the ceiling with layers of color coordinated fabrics.

Back in the sewing room were many shelves with all sorts of books to the ceiling. Ima painted. She embroidered. She burned wood. She had books for almost every creative endeavor you could think of and the patterns as well. Ima smocked like I dreamed of smocking. She has given me all her smocking patterns and books and was there to coach me when I first began smocking.

It took us two days to empty out the room and my husband packed and pushed fabric and stuff into every nook and cranny of our car. It literally will take me months to go thru all of this and get it organized. But as I told my 88 year old dear friend, who will be going to live in Oregon with her daughter, I will think of her as I work thru her gifts. I'll remember her warmth, her creativity, her sense of adventure, her God given talent, with every button I sort. every binding I wrap, every lace I Biz, and every fabric I fold for a long long time. I love you, Ima.....Bunny

22 comments:

  1. Ima's gift to you far exceeds a car full of treasures. What a beautiful story.

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  2. Goose bumps ran up and down my body and tears came to my eyes as I ready your tribute to Ima. I know you will treasure every thing she passed on to you. Thank you for sharing your friendship with Ima with us.

    Barb

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  3. I can't think of a more worthy recipient!

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  4. What a wonderful from a wonderful friend! You'll think of her with every piece of fabric.

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  5. There are people in our lives for a moment, a month, a year, a lifetime... It sounds like Ima is a lifelong treasure whose friendship has left a permanent footprint on your heart! How wonderful to have to just one of those in a lifetime. I thought of you this weekend when I learned a little American Smocking (Kenneth showed me how to do a basketweave)! Wish you could've joined us!

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  6. What a great friend and wonderful relationship! I am sure she will love to get photos of things you make with her fabrics.

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  7. A wonderful, heartwarming story. What a wonderful, loving, talented friend.

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  8. OMG - what a treasure - the friend and the goodies. The Buttons - mo my - the buttons, and the antique lace. You have a real trove. Pictures, pictures - and whatever you do make sure who ever ends up with it - either on your back or your daughter's, that they know what they are getting!

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  9. What an incredible story about this amazing lady!! How blessed you are to have her in your life!

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  10. What a lovely story. A bit sad though. Well quite sad actually, but I suppose we must all move on. At least she got to give it away to another wonderful sewist. Lucky you :)

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  11. What a touching, heart warming story. The friendship will live on forever in your hearts.

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  12. Ima's story brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure she got as much from knowing you as you did her. I agree how sad sewing never came up earlier in your relationship. Think how much more she could have shared. Somehow I think your blog readers have all benefited from you having spent time with Ima. Thank you for sharing so much of your talents with us.

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  13. Oh Bunny, I would have LOVED to have seen her sewing room! You described it so beautifully. Ima sounds like a wonderful, gifted person. What a blessing your friendship must be.
    Sivje

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  14. Reading this is like reading a fairy tale. God is a great provider isn't He.
    Thanks for this very moving story.
    You deserve it and will make great use of Ima's heritage

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  15. A moving and gorgeous tribute to an incredible woman. Wish I knew her! I do hope that she will see what you have written about her!
    Cissie

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  16. Bunny, I can think of no one else more deserving of such a wonderful gift! I know you will make good use of her treasures & hold her close in your heart as you work your magic with them.

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  17. Que historia tan bonita y al mismo tiempo melancolica, me hace pensar en el paso del tiempo y como éste nos hace desprendernos de lo que más hemos amado a lo largo del tiempo.
    Gracias por compartirla con nosotras.
    Desde
    Murcia España.
    Carmen

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  18. I am drooling at the description of the sewing room and the multitude of treasures and just thinking how lucky Ima is that she got to CHOOSE who would have these things. It must be a real comfort to her to know that they will be valued and used by her dear friend. I can only hope my sewing things--not nearly so wonderful, but still important to me---will go to someone who appreciates them, too. Don't know who that would be at this point, but hopefullly, I'm not going anywhere for awhile (I'm 58.)

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  19. Thank you for sharing about Ima. I'm so glad you got to know her and that now you are blessed by her sewing collection.

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  20. Wow! I can't begin to imagine the treasures she had . . and going to FIT in the 50's?!? Can you imagine? Unreal. What I think is even better, though, is that she took the time to share with you what she had throughout the years be it sewing or gardening. That's the real treasure.

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  21. Oh Bunny, you have the best stories. You know if I am ever up there in your area I am stopping by. I'll give you advance notice. ;)

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  22. Bunny, I read this story with tears in my eyes. What a wonderful gift from a wonderful friend. I too wonder about my stash and hope that I'll have the ability to give my goodies to friends rather than have my children come and just get rid of everything when the time comes. Gita

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