Friday, November 25, 2011


I never knew my maternal grandmother. I wish I had. She died well before I was born. I wish I'd have asked questions about her while there were still people in my life who could have answered them. How is it that she had the courage to leave pre-war Poland by herself when she wasn't quite 21? How did she get the money? Family lore says that she saved her egg money, but even though she went by steerage, she would have had to start saving when she was a little girl. How did she get from the south of Krakow to Poland's northern ocean fronted border? I was too young and too full of myself to ask these and myriad other questions I have about this gutsy, prescient young woman.

Grandma was on my mind when I found Carol Owens' Crafting Personal Shrines at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts' shop. After a couple of aborted trials, I constructed this little memorial to my mom's mother. It's not nearly as elegant as the samples in the book but I'm not displeased with my first effort. I learned a lot...about Poland during the pre-WWI years; about Polish farms and the probable life style for young girls married off to farmers three times their age; about what it was like to travel alone in steerage across a stormy Atlantic ocean. What I didn't expect to learn is that I share a number of traits with her: a love of making things, a curiosity about the unknown, and a determination to try something scary despite others' cautionary warnings. So maybe what I really learned is that I know her better than I thought.

1 comment:

Sara (your niece) said...

I have similar regrets about my own grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. This is really touching.