The Future Drawer

Aunt Theodora's cross-stitched Christmas carol. Photo by E.g.

Aunt Theodora is a crafter. She can knit bulky woolen work socks for her farming and fishing grandsons, and embroider cross-stitch samplers on the finest thread-count linen. With her lap shared by her work and her West Highland Terrier, Sunrise, she settles into her armchair by the picture window. There, during breaks, she and Sunrise can watch the hummingbirds at the nectar feeders.

Look, there’s one now!

A sip under an ancient lilac

On a recent visit to Aunt Theodora, she asked me a question. “Turtle, would you like to see my Future Drawer?” Of course, I said.

We went into her bedroom. Aunt Theodora lowered herself to the floor beside her dresser, pulled out the bottom drawer, and one by one showed me her treasures. Folded sheets of tissue paper held tiny knitted sweaters and dresses, baby booties and crib dollies. In a wave of deja-vu, I recognized the infant tops as similar to those that had dressed my doll Woody Alice once I’d outgrown them.

I’m sorry I didn’t take photos. It was such a privilege to see these things that picture-taking would have felt tacky. It was a glimpse into fifty years past, into my own personal history, with the artifacts fresh and new.

“There will always be babies,” said Aunt Theodora. “And I must keep busy, you understand.” Yes to both statements. There were many children at Aunt Theodora’s birthday party in March, the youngest a wee girl of three weeks. Any young mother would be proud to see her newborn wearing home-made, vintage-pattern knits.

“These I like to use to trim the parcels,” Aunt Theodora smiled, pulling out half a dozen dollies in hooded sleepers of various colours. “Would you like one?”

I chose the one in the yellow sleeper. I haven’t decided whether it’s a girl or a boy, so I’ve named it Baby Tracy. When I was a child, people could still refer to a baby as “it”. Baby Tracy doesn’t mind.

Baby Tracy.

9 Responses to The Future Drawer

  1. Anne Gibert says:

    What a picture of peace and tranquility. There’s a lot to be said for old age.

  2. lavenderbay says:

    Aunt Theodora is a model we can both look forward to emulating, Anne.

  3. Baby Tracy looks like a boy to me, but I couldn’t explain why.

  4. pennycat says:

    Aunt Theodora sounds like a wonderful person of peace and tranquility, how privileged you are to have her amongst you.

  5. eyegillian says:

    I admire the way Aunt T keeps her mind active, even though her body has slowed down. Not only does she do amazing handwork, but she focuses on someone else while she’s busy, whether she’s knitting socks or baby hats. You know she’s thinking about her family and friends and babies yet to be born, and preparing for the future, even though her own time is growing short. I want to be like her when I grow up.

    And Dennis, I disagree totally about Baby Tracy — definitely a girl.

  6. Ahhh, I love that idea, a future drawer. I had a great-aunt who was like Aunt Theodora, my Aunt Nan. She completed incredible projects even long after her hands were twisted with arthritis, into her 90s. Knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, she knew it all and completed everything to perfection.
    Baby Tracy – definitely a girl.

  7. that’s so neat that she keeps things such as she has.

  8. lavenderbay says:

    I think Baby Tracy is a boy, too, James, but as soon as E.g. saw it she said it was a girl, so I decided to leave it as an it. Barefootheart votes for girl too, so we’re tied at half-time…

    You’ve got that right, Pennycat! E.g. and I try to drive out to see her every three or four weeks. I even took my mum to meet her when she was up from Ontario for a visit. Aunt Theodora makes everyone welcome.

    Yes, Eyegillian, Aunt Theodora is bright as a button. I hope I can be as sharp as her at 49, let alone 94!

    So you know then, Barefootheart. Was your Aunt Nan your crochet Muse?

    She’s still in the same little farmhouse she moved into as a War Bride, Stephanie. E.g. and my house, by comparison, is the 16th place I’ve lived in. I want to stay here for a while, just to see what “permanency” feels like.

  9. Aunt Nan taught my Mom to knit, but she didn’t live close enough to teach me, unfortunately. Anyway, requires too much patience. Ann, who sat behind me at my first job was into crochet and taught me. I also gave rug hooking and crewel work, and even pillow embroidery a go when I was younger. People don’t seem to do those things so much any more.

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