My Grand Carters

20210521_115934I started working on this custom piece and (as you can see) I wasn’t too deep into it before being inspired by my grandmother. I don’t know why, but it felt as though she were spying on me, the spirit of her over my shoulder delightfully begging me to try another color…..

Granny Carter was our matriarch. There was very little masculine energy in our little tribe. She had born three girls and one homosexual boy. And those women, their children produced only women and one more homosexual (Hey, that’s me!) SO, with all of that massive feminine energy Granny Carter was heralded as a queen in our clan. 

Granny Carter had this relentless desire for beauty and perfection. Those things we adore do not always need to be treasures that are hunted far and wide, but can be found in the joy of growing flowers in your own backyard. And yes, while she may have had strands of Mikimoto pearls that she purchased while living in Japan, she credited more joy to learning how to make kimonos from her neighbor… Granny was doing laundry and found a $5 bill in my grandfather’s trousers. She screams, “BOBBY! Go ask the neighbors if they’d like to go out for bingo at the base!” And her new Japanese neighbors kindly accepted and that was when Granny truly learned the finesse of sewing from Su, her new friend next door. 

Years later, after having lived their entire lives moving from Japan, to France, to Germany, (with an aunt an uncle born along the way, and now in their 50’s), she and Grandpa Carter decided to move as far away from everything as they could. They wanted to be as creative as possible. And they spent their entire days growing persimmons, asparagus, pear trees, hanging gourds to attract birds, sweet and sickly vats of red water hung close to the hibiscus to attract hummingbirds…..

Granny made her own clothes, famously making pants for herself in a time when women had the balls to do so. And her trousers always had this adorable little embroidered mushroom or turtle on the cuff, down by her shoes… that you would know she made this. She learned. Always kept following the desire, that quiet desire to make or grow beautiful things. She learned to knit and crochet in the 1980’s, then moved onto quilting in the 1990’s…..and funny. As I write this, I am just now realizing that I sleep every night under a quilt Granny Carter made for my mother. My mother gave it to me with this most beautiful concept I’ve ever felt. My mother said, “I want to give you some of these things now rather than after I pass on, so that I can watch you enjoy them.” And I do…..I sleep under that quilt every night.

But, while Granny was running a sewing machine, Grandpa Carter had this massive shed that was actually larger than the house they lived in. I do not lie when I say that their home was so far away from society that my grandparents built and stocked their own private Walmart in their backyard. When they went into town, as rare as it was, they bought three and four of anything they could find and stocked it (just like a department store) in that giant shed. (My grandfather was a strict man when it came to organization. That was HIS beautiful mind. You tell him the square footage of a house, he could tell you how many nails it took to build it……I didn’t inherit his mathematical wizardry 🙂 )

My Grand Carters had competitive gardens. She wanted her method of growing things, and wanted to pick her own things to sprout. My grandfather went about with tomatoes and peppers and corn, of course. But, he also dipped into growing grapes so he could make his own wine. She grew a medicine chest. Herbs, roots, things to pulverize and made into a paste or a salve. 

They had five acres, their tiny 500 square foot house in the very dead center. They divided the land equally. “You take care of that half, I’ll tend to this half…..and I’ll see you later today. We’ll meet up for dinner…..”

They had it so figured out…

188613094_1115257358974070_7247778036147642249_nI look over at Phillip. As I tend to my delicate embroidery, he stomps along in his own space building concrete pots. 

There would be a stupidity in saying, “I would truly love the kind of relationship my grandparents had,” but the truth is, I already have it. And then you laugh at the audacity for asking for something you already have….

…a creative, safe, comforting place to create with a person I adore, but can get sick of real quick if I don’t get some alone time….(And Phillip just said, “Right back atcha!”) 

I guess that’s why while embroidering this morning Granny seemed to show up right away, tap on my shoulder, suggest a color or two, then squeeze my shoulders and whisper, “You are exactly where you should be right now. I love you….” 

By the way, I forgot to mention….My Grands married the day they met. She was a waitress in New Olrleans, he was a flashy army boy with a new car about to head overseas! And for 50 years they never left each other’s side and were always a team….(Thanks, Granny).

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  1. I loved your description of your Granny and Grandpa Carter. So very much like my husband and I! While I am busy creating, via all things textile arts, he’s outside mowing the lawn and building a deck. I do think having the space to pursue individual interests and passions, yet coming together for precious time as a couple, is key to having a wonderful, long lasting relationship. My husband and I have been together now for 48 wonderful years. May you be so blessed as well.

  2. Beautiful story of your grandparents. You have a wonderful legacy of creativity and a zest for life. In addition, you have priceless treasures of your family. In recent years my mother has given me some family treasures. It is a joy to be the caretaker of these treasures filled with memories.

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