Mamie, Ida-Mae Wassell of her full name, is my grandmother.
I received today by mail some of her art pieces, I openned the box anxious to know what was inside, which art work my uncle bill chose to send to me. My heart filled up with emotions and souvenirs seeing her tapestries, so familiar to me. So much personality and profoundness emerged from her work. Hours of patient work, telling a story of it’s own, full of knowledge and sharing.
Let me share with you who was mamie, my grandmother, who past away last year at age 99 years old !
Mamie grew up in the United-States in New-Jersey in a traditional american family. Her father was a respected banker and her mother raised her four children at home. Mamie was independent at quite a young age, full of dreams and exotism for her time. Very sporty and strong willed, she learned to fly and became one of the first women in the States to be pilot.
She married at a young age, William “bill” Wassell.
It was a happy couple that loved to meet with friends and organize parties in their beautiful house Old Golf Road.
Bill owned a famous and successful Apple pie factory, that enabled them to live a high class life style, in a Great Gatsby style !!! In this joyful atmosphere, my mother was born, Barbara Wassell followed 6 years later by her brother Bill Wassell.
At the age of 18, my mother moved to Europe, to learn arts in Italy and then in France. She left the States not feeling confortable in this luxurious and care free life style. Mamie followed her for a year and then went back to the States. A few years later, when her husband died she moved to Paris to live next to her daughter and lived a few subway stops from our house.
Every wednesday, from a young age, I used to go and visit my grand-mother’s house. Wednesday was the day off from school in France. By then, at the age of fifty, mamie had become a talented art’s and crafts artist. She new many techniques like sculpture, sewing, tapestry, macrame, paper collage and cooking. I used to love coming to her house, we would spend hours together making things, learning, reading, going pic-nicking in the public Tuilleries Parc in Paris. The atmosphere in her house was peacefull, caring and very creative.
Her house was always full of her art works in the making. I would arrive, look around the house to see what was new, what new creation was in the works and always discover some thing new and interesting. We would sit and have lunch, she would prepare a nice table, with table cloth, nappkins, and elegant silverware. I would speak in english with her, practicing my english with a lot of fun and laughter.
Mamie taught me all that I know today about the art’s and craft world. She taught with passion and love and a lot of patience in the way knowledge should be hand on from one person to an other through the heart. To this day, when I teach children art’s and crafts, there is always one of the children that call me , סבתה, grandma, by mistake. I then smile because I know that her soul lives inside of me and the children feel it.
Now that her art work, has entered my house again after so many years, I fell that she has come to live with us again. That she will share with us our everyday life and see how much her passion for arts has been transmitted to me and my children, her great grandchildren.
Welcome home, mamie …