Molly Alexander: Teapots

Last week, Diane Cook wrote about her wonderful grandmothers, Rosa and Josie, and it really got me thinking about my own grandmother and a post I wrote about her a few years ago, so I thought I'd share it with you:

I love teapots. All sorts of them. Old, new, fat, skinny, tall, short - it doesn't matter. I love the graceful lines of their spouts and the feelings they invoke inside me. Growing up, I used to drink tea with my Grandma. Actually, you couldn't really call it tea - mostly milk and sugar with a little Earl Grey mixed in. We would get our tea ready and Grandma would let me sit and drink it in her living room watching TV, and I would feel very grown up and special.

Grandma died in January 2008, after nearly 10 years of progressive dementia at the age of 96. It was a strange emotional experience for me. I haven't lived in my hometown since I left for college nearly 26 years ago, and didn't get to see her very often. Yes, I got home to see my family at least once a year, but I didn't see Grandma on a regular basis like they did, and when I did get to see her, most of the time, she didn't recognize me. I guess in my mind, the woman I knew had passed on years ago, and her actual death didn't seem as much as a loss to me as it might have otherwise.

In May 2008, as I was getting ready for a show, I finally grouted a teapot I'd glued the pieces to months before. I love how it turned out. I used old English china, along with a lot of other pieces and parts, and it turned out great. The black grout really showed off the bright colors of the beads and glass in the piece, and highlighted the broken china patterns beautifully.

Usually I get a chance to live with my pieces for a while before I sell them, but this time I needed to make sure I had enough mosaics to take with me, so I brought the teapot along. In reality, most of my sales from this type of show are for commissioned pieces, and I usually don't sell a whole lot of my higher-priced pre-made pieces, so I was not expecting it to sell anyway.

Wouldn't you know it - the teapot sold right away. As I was packing it up to give to my client, I was struck by a sadness that came out of nowhere. I had no idea what had caused it, and that bothered me a little. Later in the day, I called my mom just to check in. As I was telling her about the show, it hit me - not only did I not get to spend time with this piece before selling it, but I realized that, when I created it, it had been a love letter to Grandma. 

Finally I felt it - the loss of a wonderful, amazing woman who had given me a safe and loving place to just be who I was, without apology or affectation, for my entire childhood. 

My heart filled with love and loss, and I finally grieved.

I miss Grandma, and I have finally let myself feel that loss. I think I'll do another teapot - just for me this time - and have a cup of Earl Grey with milk and sugar now and again to remind me of her and how grateful I am for the love she gave to me.
You an learn more about Molly on her blog, Beautifully Broken Me


Kathy said...

Molly, I'm so sorry for your loss. My 99 year old grandmother died over a year ago. I didn't live near her, but we were close and kept in touch via letters. For the last 2 years or so of her life, her otherwise sharp mind was sadly altered by a stroke. And it was difficult to communicate with her. She no longer wrote letters to me. But every once in a while, when she spoke, certain words would come out clear as a bell..."So good to see you, dear Kathy." Or "The Lord bless you!" And then she would go back to mumbo jumbo words. But now that she's gone, it's those clearly spoken phrases that I hold onto. And the way she smiled and said so much with her eyes. I miss her terribly. But to know that I will see her again is a comfort.

Your teapot is lovely, and yes, you must make one for yourself now! Cherish your memories.

Chris said...

Molly, Your teapot is so whimsically beautiful, and the fact that it was a loving tribute to your Grandma made it even more amazing~
Thank you for sharing your heart, dear friend. You are a blessing for me.

Diane said...

Oh Molly...what a sweet, sweet story. I feel that tender love you hold so close in your heart for your grandmother....Your teapot was beautiful (that you sold), and no doubt this next one will be just as special, if not more. xo