I wrote this to share at Grandmother’s memorial service.
Lillian Aldeane Beverly Stanley
March 11, 2017
Throughout my life she taught me so many things– as much by example as by her words. She was as much mother as grandmother. Most people lose their parents once. I have lost mine twice, in a way. But I am not here to talk of loss, though it is a great loss, saying this last goodbye. I am here to celebrate my grandmother and a small part of her legacy.
Grandmother believed very much in family, and in always being there for her family. So, when my parents separated, she took in my mother and her 5 year old daughter. In that moment, she became my mother as much as my Grandmother. As Mother, she made and carried out household rules and punishments for any infractions. Mealtimes, bedtimes, homework times and chores were all handled with routine attention. There was a right way to do everything–towels folded a certain way, dishes and silverware washed, dried, and put away in assigned places, dusting from top to bottom — I even learned to fold a fitted sheet perfectly! Meals were balanced and snacking was healthy. I learned good manners and good posture, while absorbing knowledge of some important, though more abstract, guiding principles — Be kind and compassionate. Do All things with love. Do your very best – always. Make the world around you more beautiful, and try to look your best while doing these things.
But perhaps the most important thing I learned from Aldeane Stanley, that has shaped my life, and given form to who I am today, is that creativity is part of everyone and everything. We are all meant to be creative. We ARE all creative. SHE certainly was — no child could be bored at Grandmother’s house for long. She could make the most mundane things seem magical, from the kitchen to the back yard to the craft room, there was something wonderful to make and do everywhere! In the kitchen, you could turn plain toast into a gourmet dessert with a drizzle of chocolate syrup; in the back yard, a blade of grass or an acorn shell could make music! Clouds held a vast array of shapes — people and animals who could fill any storytime; and in the craft room, cereal boxes or old computer paper became a canvas for drawing or painting. styrofoam meat trays and egg cartons were once transformed into a beautiful white peacock with individual tail feathers on a black felt board, elegant enough to decorate the most formal living room! It was like a fairy tale! Another time a stack of Reader’s Digest magazines turned into Santa and Mrs. Claus with a few folds and some cotton and red paint!
Most of you know she was a gifted quilter, doing most all of the quilts by hand, on frames that filled our living room. I played with my barbie dolls underneath, and absorbed sewing skills almost by osmosis! And her dressmaking, crochet and other needle arts were top notch too! Not to mention countless dolls and doll clothes she created for me and all of her other grandchildren.
But do you know just how many different creative skills resided inside that modest and humble lady? Just to name a few that I know of: she not only tried, but was accomplished in woodworking (including furniture and dulcimer making), she could play that dulcimer well too!, decoupage, oil, acrylic and watercolor painting (with or without numbers), string art, flower arranging, silk flower making, paper cutting silhouettes, paper quilling, rubber stamping, scrapbooking, drawing in pencil, charcoal, chalks and crayons (on any surface), basket weaving and chair caning, macrame, jewelry making, calligraphy and even papermaking (we did that one together). Cooking and baking included family favorites such as chocolate syrup over homemade biscuits, butterscotch and other delicious pies, stack cakes, nut breads, perfect red apple butter and so much more…
I am certain that’s not all, but you get the idea. She was creative. Almost magically creative. I have long suspected her of being Mary Poppins, because she was practically perfect in so many ways, though she would dispute any claims of perfection if you offered that compliment.
It has been my great fortune to have been born into the gentle love and care of Aldeane Stanley. Grandmother’s life (the simple and elegant way she lived it) is a precious gift to me and to all who knew her. My dearest hope is to pass along even a fraction of who she was to my children, and anyone else who comes along. If I can do that, I will have made the world a more beautiful place, just as she taught me.