Many years ago when my great grandmother was still alive she told me of how she had gone over to Belgium just after WW1 to see my great grandfather who was working in a field hospital there. She told me how 'the ladies' had made her a piece of lace and the movement she made with her hand as she told me suggests to me that she meant a piece of needlelace.
She was, by then, over one hundred years old and though still living at home it was mainly in one room. At the memory of this story she got up and went into her bedroom now long abandoned, a memory room quiet and almost sanctified in its stillness. The suite of furniture was Edwardian with an ancient bakelite light switch hanging over the bed, now covered over with a dust sheet. At the dressing table she rummaged in the drawers, full of long unused items,toiletries and clothing. She was looking for the lace.
One hundred years after her trip I, a needlelace maker, have been working with vascular surgeons. The work was initiated because of the historical connection with Alexis Carrel, a Belgian surgeon and creator of the vascular anastomosis ,who learnt stitching from his mother and other embroiderers and lace makers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
We never found her piece of lace but I found it's effect on the world.
|Bertha and James Ellison|