It began when she let me sit on her bed and read her Betty and Veronica comic books.
Later it moved to watching her crochet. “What are you doing?” How do you do that? That looks hard. Is that hard? How did you do that twisting thing?
Soon she handed the hook and yarn over to me and had me do a few stitches, then my own hook and yarn showed up and we sat together crocheting, she, watching me occasionally out of the corner of her eye.
Then it was on to sewing, guiding me through the foreign language of pattern reading, following her to fabric stores. It took me to taking a sewing class in junior high. I made a blouse. The teacher insisted those stitches look even and hidden. I unpicked that frikking blouse so many times I lost count. But when it was done, I was so proud. I wonder whatever happened to that blouse.
Next I was in the living room, sitting on that orange crushed-velvet rocking chair. ‘Needlepoint”. The repetitive, detailed tediousness, I would have like to have poked the inventor in the eye with that needlepoint. But after a month I finished my project she helped me pick out; a cat face peering out of a flowery bush. When it was done, she took it and made it into a pillow. That kitten is almost 40 years old now and still displays itself in her house.
She was the only one who stepped away from the unspoken expectation of simply marrying and starting ‘your own family’. Left for college and became a nurse. Man, she worked hard. Never gave up. We wouldn’t have blamed her if she did.
Her curiosity gave my curiosity permission to come out of hiding. I was never berated for exploring off-limit places like the unmarked door in a store, the room in the back when she was around. In fact, she was right behind me. Our curiosity took us and my children on wonderful road trips along the Oregon coast, through Yellowstone National park and multiple cross-country skiing day trips.
Subtle, unintentional molding is what she did. Helping to grow and explore areas of interests, parts of me I never knew were there.