I was in the basement doing laundry this evening and got distracted looking through a box of old crafting goodies before returning upstairs. The box was full of things I hadn't touched or thought about in many years. The theme seemed to be ALMOST finished projects. I found magazine pages torn out intended for collages, a tea towel that I nearly finished embroidering, some small collages that looked very inspired but seemed to have a little something missing.
And then I found a simple wooden frame with a blank canvas inside. When I turned it over I saw that it had a heavy piece of cardboard behind the canvas. I opened up the frame, separated the cardboard from the canvas, and out spilled a flurry of small paper pieces. As I started to look through the paper scraps, I couldn't figure out what these random images would have been for. Tiny butterflies, flowers, a picture of an old woman and a young girl. It seemed very random.
Then I started to see strips of text.
And suddenly I remembered what this project was for.
How could I forget? How could I have let myself tuck this in a box for all of these years and never finish it?
The text, which was cut into many pieces, was my grandmother's favorite poem:
To laugh often and much
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Many years ago when I was visiting her at her home in La Crosse, she randomly took a paper with this poem on it out of her purse and told me that she loved it so much and wanted me to read it. She wondered if I could frame it for her to put somewhere in her house. I said "no problem!" and told her I'd bring it back next time I came by. When I thought about how to frame it, I decided that I would surprise her with a nice collage to accompany the poem. I apparently managed to pick all of the images for the collage, find a frame and cut the pieces of the text. But I never finished and managed to completely forget about this almost finished project sitting in a box in my basement - through at least two moves and many years.
Tonight, even though my grandma has been gone for more than a year, I finished framing her poem. Lars, my 5 year old, helped me cut and paste the pieces and made a collage of his own (with the same poem) for his room as well. He was so proud of himself and asked "would grandma great be proud of me?" Aren't five year olds the best?
So, I would like to say "better late than never," but it makes me sad to think that it took me this long to finish such a simple task that would have made my grandma so happy. It makes me realize how fast life flies by, how the big picture can so easily get lost when you're caught up in day to day junk, and how important it is to make time for friends and family.
The poem pretty much says it all.
I can understand why it was my grandma's favorite. It really simplifies things. This is the kind of success that I want.
So, better late than never, I guess.
As for all of the other unfinished projects, those might have to wait. I'm pretty sure the kiddos are going to be keeping me outside 24/7 while the weather is nice. It's just as well. Maybe I will finally plant a garden.