This is a picture of Harriet and Carole Jean, my mother.

They look like sisters don’t they? Mom is the one on the left.

I chatted with mama about the table tonight. She got the table about the time she married my dad sometime in the early 70’s. Like I said before, it’s the only table I knew as a child. Most of my memories of the table from that time involved some form of mom’s art. She always had some project piled on top of it. Mom’s the kind of person that can think something and make it. She is truly an artist as is my younger sister. She spent years in the photography business, way before things went digital. Her particular area of expertise was in retouching photographs. What was once done by hand is now done digitally. It’s a lost art. At one time she was second in the nation at her craft.

Later when she met and married my stepdad in the 80’s she made soft sculpture dolls. Not just any dolls. She was particularly known for her portrait dolls. Here is an example of one she made to look like me.

I was probably in the 4th or 5th grade at the time. Big hair was in, don’t judge. She used to wear glasses like I did, but I don’t know what happened to those. I wish I had pictures of the one she made to look like Mr T. It was awesome!

She also spent time at this table trying to teach my sister and I how to make things. It took in my sister…not so much in me. While I may be creative, I am not an artist. This bugs me sometimes.

She sewed the most amazing clothes here. That is one skill I totally wish I had begged her to teach me. Every year just before school and Easter, Tabitha and I got to choose our own dress patterns, fabric, and notions, to be used in the sewing of a dress. It made us feel like designers! Sadly, and gladly, I have but one example to show you.

This was my Easter dress in about the 4th grade I think.

It’s a little big still for Ruthie, but she still makes a great model don’t you think? It will for sure be hers one day.

Here she is showing off the petticoat underneath. (Check out that pinkie action there)

I loved this dress. I also wore it to my older half sister’s wedding that same summer. I think it was 1984.

She also painted this oil portrait of me while she was sitting at the table. …and she made the dress in the portrait as well. She made the dress when she was 16, probably at the table, and she added the lace and pearls the year I wore it. The fabric showed a little age and the lace helped cover that up some. I believe I was 15 so it had to be around 1989. I still have this dress too. I hope it survives long enough for Ruthie to wear it one day.

Finally though, the art she is most passionate about is her woodcarving, which she has done for nearly 23 years now. She is a master at this. She travels around the country teaching this skill and has even written a book that is in it’s second printing on the topic (go mom!).

This is a picture of Dahl Brian, one of her first amazing pieces that she gave me a few years ago. I have many of her carvings, but this one she did back when I still lived at home. Dahl Brian was carved from a Cypress Knee. This was a very special piece for her, inspired by a dear friend that taught her most of what she knows about carving. It was named after him. The photo unfortunately does not quite do it justice. There is so much detail when you get up close and personal with it.

The table lived a very creative life while in my mama’s possession. She has probably spent more time there than my grandmother and me put together so far. Mama and I have not always seen eye to eye, we are two very different women, but one of the things that she taught me and fought for me to understand through all of her art and literally with her life and words, was this. It is OK to color outside of the lines. You have to be true to who God made you to be, not who every one else wants you to be. This one thing has stuck and I think only recently has really started to sink in probably more than she meant for it too. Now, as I teach my own daughter, and eventually my other children here, I ache to make sure that it sinks into them as well, and pray that I have the ability to recognize it when it happens.

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