Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I See Dead People

I usually skate over the obituaries that Google alerts send me about dead women who enjoyed cross stitch. But this one has some interest.
She is reluctant to mention her interest in needlework, knitting, cross-stitch, crochet and sewing. Too many accounts of older women say simply, "She enjoyed crochet and Bingo" as if their lives were that narrowly defined. Let the record stand that she never liked to play Bingo or cards. The objection was not on moral grounds, but that there were so many other ways to be creatively occupied that she resented the time spent.
The very first thing I have to mention is the present tense in the opening sentence: She is reluctant to mention. Kind of jarring in an obituary. I had to look it over to make sure she was really dead.

You all know I appreciate her reluctance. I never talk about the women who "enjoyed cross-stitch and fill in the blank with another old lady pastime" for the very reason she mentions. It is a narrow definition of older women. The old lady count is really meant as a way for us to explore this and maintain our own distance, to say sure old ladies do it but there's so much more to it. I'm still young.

But then the next line, "let the record stand that she never liked to play Bingo or cards," is really very defensive. She wants to make sure you know she's not like those old ladies. "Creativity is better than cards, not a moral problem you understand, just my way is best." I'd like to live in a world where we all try to find a way to give credit to each pastime. Bingo and card playing are good for the reflexes, focus (and some of those old ladies, they need the focus), staving off dementia, not to mention the social aspects. My husband's grandmother has just gone into care and she's suddenly staying up later because she has people around with whom to interact. As much as I hate to admit this, we are social animals. And some pastimes are better for that than others. (Let's face it, cross-stitch is a pretty solitary pursuit.)

I don't think we have to engage in all hobbies to appreciate that each has value. This part seems to undercut what she's after. She doesn't want people to judge her for her "old lady habits" and yet she does it...and from beyond the grave.

5 comments:

Maren said...

Ok, I had two reactions to this. The first, LOL!!! Thank you so much for not only sharing that obituary, but in picking in apart so thoroughly and so well. And the second, I want to be one of those old ladies! :)

Donna said...

I think I like stitching best when it isn't solitary. That's why I now have two different weekly groups to attend.

Thanks for keeping up the old lady count.

Patti said...

I know I like stitching best when it isn't solitary. I have one weekly group where we meet once weekly in each others homes.

Cathy said...

My mom has been playing cards with a group of ladies as long as I can remember, and she was 20 when she had me. Card playing is no more an old lady pursuit than stitching is.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the dearly departed Ms. Linton had any input on her own obituary (before she departed, of course) or if her alleged feelings about stitching and bingo were thrust upon her by her surviving children.

Remind me to tell you about Mrs. Wiser - my 10th grade English teacher who collected antique samplers and had an article published about her collection in our local newspaper. Why is it that those who enjoy language also enjoy stitchery? - (Mrs. Wiser, Anna, Donna, Hawthorne) What is the link?