My mother was taught many things by my grandma, the woman in whom I have not had the privilege of meeting. She was a hard-working woman who relied on her hands to provide for her family. Being the wife and mother of children does entail a lot of responsibilities of a woman who lives and works at home. The home for grandma was everything to her because it was where she fed her kids, my grandpa, and was also where she worked. Everything she did had purpose and meaning in her eyes which just hearing the stories from my mom makes me love the woman I never met. Weaving was a craft my grandma looked at for support, it to her was a life lesson she taught my mom amongst many experiences they both shared. Just to get the loom together was always a series a steps in order to get to the finishing work of art, but the process was a learning craft my mom has mastered since the day she was taught. When my mom tells me the stories of how they would sit next to each other and bond over their work, it brings a smile and lightness to my heart because I am able to do the talk with my mom. It was the love they have that makes the weaving more cherished and remembered, I want to learn it as well. My grandma told my mom that it would benefit her if she needed money and from my experience it did help my family.
After my dad was out of the picture, my mom worked hard and the skill she acquired from my grandma didn’t make it easier but it helped. At times if she made a nice rug she would get enough for groceries for a month but if it wasn’t big enough and was made quick then it would be good enough for gas for a few days. My mom was a single parent and she had to use whatever she could to help us get by, to survive. I knew it was hard for my mom to cope with handling with the stress of five kids, food, electricity, work, and keeping the house clean. To her it all came down to finding balance and from what she tells me “grandma said when all else fails, weave and pray!’. My mom made so many different types of rugs and when I look at the pictures I am proud she kept her head up. I give props to her each chance we talk knowing that what she learned helped her survive even when we were at our lowest, financially and mentally she grew in her craft.
I loved waking up on weekends when I could hear banging because she was already working, and the smell of coffee throughout the house letting us all know she was awake. We got lucky on most weekends to be able to spend time with mom in the living room and hear her say sweetly “hi sweetie” in her loving voice that would make me sit on the couch behind her and watch her work. It brought comfort to us because she was busy but just to have her around us made the house feel warm and safe. My grandpa made most of the tools for my mom and grandma, some of the tools belonged to my grandma until she gave them all to her. From my view I like to imagine how beautiful it must have been to see them from my comfy couch view, just to try to interpret what they would say to one another in Navajo. I wasn’t lucky enough to learn how to speak it but I knew the basic terms and how I knew how much they loved each other. I could see myself pouring them each a cup of coffee with sugar and cream, hearing them tell me thank you. The life that my mom, Angelina, experienced is by far more intense to mine because of how she was forced into forgetting her language and the school system was very strict about them learning anything about our culture.So, knowing the struggle of my people back then still surprises me but my mom made it by staying strong. Reluctantly even after my grandma’s death, it was up to my mom to pass on the skill she gained and to show her work. The weaving and hard work to get a finished product was a way to survive and to me I feel like it’s another way for my mom to still have a connection with my grandma.
Through her struggle, I believe it’s amazing to see a woman with little knowledge of how she was showing me that when you are taught a lesson filled with love, use it to your advantage. I still can not believe that my mom feels no anger towards her past or any resentment from the difficult times. It makes me confused yet proud of her because she didn’t have an educational background or she wasn’t anyone who made a difference in society, but she was a loving woman who used what my grandma taught her to give her strength. I am happy just thinking of it because in a strange sense it has compelled me to gain some of her knowledge and learn to weave rugs and sashbelts so I can one day share my experience of the loom.