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For this installment of Friends & Family, I’m going to get really personal and sappy, so buckle up for an emotional ride. This family member unfortunately lost her battle to cancer almost three years ago, so it’s a little hard to look at this stuff without getting sad, but mi Tia Martha deserves this, and so much more.
My tia Martha (I can’t come to terms with calling her aunt, it just doesn’t feel the same) was an admirable warrior of a human who was unstoppable in her quest to make her family thrive. There was no challenge too big for her, and she did everything with the most beautiful smile I can still see to this day. I absolutely loved my tia and out of all the aunts I have, she was the one I was closest to, and I remember her saying she saw a lot of herself in me so I think that’s partly why this means so much to me.
Within all her admirable qualities, my tia was an AMAZING cook, an extremely talented seamstress, and quite honestly a jack of all trades in the crafting department. She was super creative and made things that were useful and beautiful, and she made it all look so easy. She was one of those people who could help in every single area of set-up and breakdown for a party, and I can only imagine how many events she had her hand in throughout her life. I remember her blowing up balloons, baking hors d’oeuvres, passing out the cotillion/favors – all in the most selfless way. I don’t think she ever even craved a thank you. She was just happy to be there doing her part.
Out of all the amazing things my tia would do, I think the one I saw her do the most was sewing. Back when I lived in Venezuela, she would come visit us from Colombia and I swear from the moment she arrived until she left, that sewing machine was going. My mom had bought it, but I think my tia was the only one who ever touched it. I now see this is how my tia started guiding my creative side to go in a streamlined direction. I’d always liked coloring and building paper models or mice out of toilet paper rolls, but while my crafts were just for fun and games, my tia’s stuff had a purpose. She taught me how to use the sewing machine and even though to this day I have trouble hooking the bottom bobbin, I’ve been able to do quite a few projects with it thanks to her.
The first thing I’d like to highlight – and possibly the coolest – is this towel bag my tia “invented.” I’ve only just now seen a lot of different versions of this, but the first time I ever saw it was when my tia made them. They were a total hit and she made dozens of them, everyone wanted one. Since she lived in Santa Marta, which is a beach town in the coast of Colombia, these were super useful for everyone, because it’s a towel that wraps into its own bag, so you don’t have to stuff it into another bag where it won’t fit or carry it on your hand. It was genius. Still is.
The other great thing about my tia is that anyone would come to her with an existing product, and she’d have no problem replicating it almost identically. This is something I now realize I do as well, and I think I got a lot of my confidence from seeing her do it so seamlessly. For example:
- This head towel – I think my mom asked her if she could make more like it, and she did, but with a few modifications at my mom’s request
- This doll party favor – as you know, party favors are expensive. So in order to save money for this party, my tia decided to make a different version of these cute hanging dolls she saw:
I also remember, my mom was a big user of shower caps but she always lost them, so one time my tia cut up a poncho and bought some elastic and bam! Extra shower caps for everyone. I wish I had a picture of those, but none I could find. All I remember is they were bright yellow and I was impressed how quickly she came up with the idea and made them.
As I mentioned earlier, my tia was a very talented seamstress and the best show of that, of course, is clothing. She could mend and make pretty much anything, and she did. Here are some of the stuff we have record of her making:
Trust me when I say that this is just a sample of the many, many things my tia created. Unfortunately, back when she was in the height of her making phone cameras weren’t a thing yet, and we didn’t feel that urgency/ease to document everything. But I hope these were enough of an insight for you to imagine all the beautiful things my tia’s hands were able to produce. My tia had such a huge talent, I’m lucky to have been able to see her do it and to have learned from her. One of the last times I spoke to her before she passed, I was able to thank her for teaching me all she did and I told her I put an M on my sewing machine in her honor, and she laughed, as always.
Tia, I miss you more than words can express, and I am so grateful that among my crafty and talented Friends & Family, I always counted on you for inspiration, knowledge, and most of all your can-do attitude and smile.