Thursday, May 17, 2007

Another Note about Grandmerner

Merner had a brother, Ray, and a sister, Della. She and Della were not only sisters but best friends as well. I remember noticing in the old photo albums that there were no pictures of Della as anything but a child or a young woman, which, considering how everyone else was documented well into old age, seemed a little strange. She was a beauty, with light brown hair worn loosely up, a full mouth and large, luminous eyes set in an oval face. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I found out Della had taken her own life when she was about 40. She'd moved to California as a young woman and was working as a nurse there. She loved to paint, a talent which my father and uncle inherited (they studied Art/Engineering and Architecture, respectively). They called her Tantie. Daddy said he tried avocado for the first time on a visit to Aunt Della in California.

Sometimes I wonder if Merner turned to things like quilting as a creative outlet because she had the same creative impulses as her sister, but could never have brought herself to engage in anything so frivolous as painting. I got the feeling she almost overcompensated for her sister's sensitive/artistic bent by being extremely pragmatic and no-nonsense. From stories she told, their mother (after whom i was named) was extremely impractical and the daughters often paid the price. For example, the girls got into the habit of listening at the drawing room door to see how many guests their mother was inviting to Sunday dinner, so they could slip out the kitchen door to go and buy more food.

I suppose, apart from her family circumstances, it would fit with the general history of women engaging in useful handicrafts rather than the fine arts, which have tended to be dominated by men (perhaps men have historically been more willing to take themselves seriously as creative artists?).

1 comment:

YankeeQuilter said...

I notice the gender difference a lot in my writing groups. Men are much more willing to read and to take themselves seriously then most of the women. It drives me cazy sometimes!