Archive for ‘family history’

September 8, 2013

Music in My Life

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Editorial: By Angela Rockwood

This is my Grandma Dixie and her beautiful violin.  I thought of her today as I was singing, joyously, out loud, in the car on the way home from church.

Grandma Dixie is the kind of grandma who loves the potential in you just as much as your kisses and smiles.  She sees us not just as who we are, now, but also as who and what we will become.  There are many conversations I had with her as a child that I know she meant for my older ears, in my future years.  Those lessons are precious to me. Grandma is one of the main people who taught me my family history, who made sure I knew who I was, where I came from, and what was important in life.  Isn’t that the ultimate role of grandma?  She helped give me my identity.  Part of that identity comes through music.

Grandma gave all of us the gift of music.  She made sure that her eight children had music lessons, and art lessons, even though it might have also meant hand-me-down clothes and home-made wheat bread to compensate in other areas of their family budget.  Music, art and family are that important.

When her children were nearly grown, her youngest son came to her in a fit over his music lessons. He told her he couldn’t figure out why he had to practice so much.  She told him he had a gift, and that he’d be able to use it all his life, perhaps even playing in the orchestra.  He continued the conversation in his flippant way, if she thought it was such a great gift, why she wasn’t she in an orchestra?  She went right out and joined the American River College Orchestra, and has been playing in the college orchestra every since.  She gained such a solid talent and skill, that she plays in a beautiful quartet, often accompanying weddings and other special occasions, as well as playing for her grandchildren.

For her birthday, grandma always tells us she doesn’t want presents.  She wants music.  For years we had Grandma Dixie’s Birthday Recital the day after Thanksgiving every year, in honor of her.  My uncle, who complained about expressing his music, is an illustration artist and works in advertising, using music and form to communicate ideas.  My other various aunts and uncles are all creative still as well.  One sews beautiful quilts and has painted with oils, another plays beautiful piano and organ.  My aunt Diane plays violin and fiddle, and is quite good. My mother studied piano in college and loves music theory.  She gives her own children and grandchildren piano lessons.  That’s how I learned, because not only was the gift of music passed from grandma Dixie to her children, but also her grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Last year, we had to move Grandma Dixie’s Birthday Recital to another day just to accommodate all the posterity that wished to play in it.  Grandma has 8 children, innumerable grandchildren, and many more great grandchildren.

Those that don’t play instruments, sing.  We all sing.  We don’t just sing popular stuff either, we sing our history.  We sing our heritage.  Songs my grandmothers have sung for a hundred years, perhaps more.  We sing around campfires, and around dinner tables, in living rooms, and reunions and while we drive in the car.  The skill is valuable, the tones and harmonies are beautiful, the heritage is rich treasure.

Grandma sang because her mother sang.  Her mother sang because her mother before her, also sang. This music is in us, given to us by our generations.  It is a beautiful thing.  Do I sing? For me the music comes out in paint, lace, poetry, and art as much as music.  It is all the same song.

The world has changed somewhat in the years since my grandmothers first taught their children the beauty of song.  There is something that was lost when recorded music came on the scene. Music played by the most skilled, most talented people of the day with state of the art equipment and percussion can hardly compare to a ragtag family chorus around the campfire, but there is something about music that has soul in it.

Music isn’t about perfection, it’s about expression.  We ought to sing.  We need to sing.  We need to sing together.

My children are still young enough that they don’t fully appreciate piano lessons, looking at art techniques or their mother singing in the car perhaps, but they know the music.  I’m teaching them the heritage.  It’s all a process.

Today my 13 year old daughter played organ prelude in sacrament meeting.  Friday my son served as DJ for the ward activity.  Last week another daughter played piano for the Spanish speaking ward who doesn’t have anyone who knows piano in their ward boundaries. This afternoon, my youngest daughter sang her heart out over her lunch snack.  It’s in there.

There are many things I want for my children, but one of things I want most is to pass on this legacy– that my children know who they are, feel the music in them, and however it comes, sing.

May 28, 2012

Grandma Lillie’s Lace

Lily with Grandma Lillie’s Lace

While we were on our road trip to Colorado, we spent some time at Grandma Rockwood’s house.  I was able to learn from her about Grandma Lillie’s Lace.  My Great-great Grandma Lillie Lang Robison was a tall, thin lady.  She had long, flowing brown hair, and beautiful greenish eyes like my Grandma Rockwood.  She is the grandma I’m named after!  Grandma Lillie was born in Beaver, Utah in 1888, and died in October, 1965.  Grandma Lillie had two children, a son and a daughter.  Her daughter’s name was Birdie Isabella Robison.   For her daughter’s blessing day, Grandma Lillie made her a lace bonnet.  It was made of a tiny crocheted lace pattern that she designed herself.  The edge is especially pretty.  It has my favorite stitch in it, it’s called the “rolled” stitch.

Lace making is a tradition in our family, passed down from Grandma Lillie, to her granddaughter, my grandma Mary Rockwood, and maybe to me!  Lace making today is a rare thing, but in our family it is a tradition on both sides of the family.  On my mom’s side of the family, they also make lace.  Her grandma Celinda Jane Twitchell Olson knitted lace, and passed down her love of lace making to my mother, who also makes lace.  On our trip, Grandma showed my mom how to make the roll stitch, and I got to see.   You use small white thread and a tiny number 10 crochet hook.  You wrap the thread around the crochet hook 16 times and then pull one loop through all 16 loops to make a small roll of stitches.  It’s beautiful.  Some roll stitches are curved around like roly-polie pill bugs, and some are straight like sausage curls.

Replica of Grandma Lillie’s Lace Bonnet

Grandma Lillie made two blessing bonnets, and gave them to her daughter, Birdie, before she died.  Grandma Birdie gave the bonnets to her daughter, Mary Rockwood, my grandma.  Grandma Rockwood took the one she thought was prettiest, and copied it.  She figured out the stitch so she could make more bonnets for her grandchildren.  It took her almost a year to figure out the design.  She has made many of Grandma Lillie’s bonnets over the past few years, and gives them to her children and their children to be blessed in, just like Grandma Birdie was.

My grandma made me a deal.  If I really want a bonnet, she will make me one, but I have to promise to love it and care for it.  I love the roll stitch that grandma makes.  It reminds me of the curls in my hair.  Grandma has curls too.

My mother’s first try making Grandma Lillie’s Lace

 

My mother is learning to make Grandma Lillie’s Lace for the edge of the altar cloth that she will make and give the temple to celebrate the day I am sealed to my forever family.  Lace making is pretty special to me.  Someday I will learn how to make lace like my Grandma Lillie too!

–Contributed by Lily Adeline Rockwood, age 11

Lily and Grandma Mary Rockwood, learning to make Grandma Lillie’s Lace