It wasn’t until my father died in 1980 that I was let into my mother’s well-kept secret.
She had been collecting dolls for some years spending hours making and embroidering beautiful clothes for them then hiding them away – fearful that my father might think her frivolous or worse still, soft. He might even have thought that she was going nuts!
My mother loved needlework and was exceptionally talented. Never empty-handed, every evening she would sit in her chair in front of the TV and would work on some project. She wore a magnifying glass around her neck and worked by the light of a large standard lamp creating many beautiful things from elegant tablecloths to tapestries to delicately worked dolls clothes.
There was nothing she couldn’t turn her hand to.
I have not inherited her patience or skill, but I have inherited her unfinished works adding some of my own to the cache. Her final project was a set of drawn thread linen table napkins. She died before completing the set.
We all keep secrets from each other. When I worked in retail it wasn’t uncommon for a woman, when purchasing, to ask that the cost of the item be split among several accounts in an effort to disguise the real price. “I don’t want my husband to know,” she’d say and then give an embarrassed giggle and a knowing glance. A wink and a nod! No questions asked, we understood perfectly.
Some secrets are small, some aren’t.
I think it’s such a shame that my mother kept her hobby to herself; that she lacked the confidence to share more of her lovingly crafted and beautiful handwork.