14 November, 2008

"She hath done what she could"

I wear this gold thimble on a chain around my neck, it was a gift from my grandmother many years ago, before I was a quilter (amazingly there was such a time!). I had it made into a pendant a while back, when I learned that it could be transformed into a piece of jewelry without compromising the integrity of the piece. I treasure it as much for it's beauty as for it's history. My Pastor asked me about it on Wednesday and I could only recall a portion of the story behind it's age and how my grandmother came to own it. When Nannie gave it to me she explained that it had been made for Sarah Elizabeth Barker, that it was a child's thimble, and that it had been given to my grandmother by Sarah Elizabeth's sister-in-law after Sarah's untimely death. I could vaguely recall where Sarah's resting place was in my hometown cemetery and I knew that a quick phone call to my Dad would be able to reveal more details, my Dad happens to be the caretaker of that cemetery. It seems that Sarah Elizabeth Barker was born on May 6, 1831. She died Sarah Elizabeth Barker Wood on July 4, 1871 of complications following childbirth; her infant daughter, born and died on June 30, 1871 is buried alongside her mother. Her gravestone is engraved with this sentiment: "she hath done what she could". A quick brush of leaves and debris from the foot of the marker also reveals this engraving: "here at my feet lies my pet cat, Tommy, age 17 years". That's a lot to take in. If the thimble belonged to Sarah at age 10 that makes it approximately 167 years old! I feel a deeper connection to Sarah now; she was a wife, mother, loved her pet, and did what she could. All this documenting one short, (too short) life on a slab of ages-old granite in a New England cemetery. I'll proudly wear this pendant with much more understanding, and heightened reverence, from now on. It's the least that I can do; for an amazing and inspiring woman, for Sarah Elizabeth Barker!

Life is Good!

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20 comments:

KarenF said...

That's so cool! What a treasure

Char said...

What a beautiful story. I envy you being to ask your father. I wish I had recorded or written down all the stories my father and mother shared with me.

teodo said...

Great memory for a great treasure.
ciao ciao

Karen Dianne Lee said...

These three, they continue to live through the magic of a thimble. The beginning of a delicious storybook tale me thinks.

Ancestor Collector said...

I love this! As someone who's spent a lot of time looking for ancestors in cemeteries, I know there are many amazing stories that can be told from the gravestones. The neat thing would be to connect the thimble with someone still living. Didn't we go to school with someone named Barker? I know we knew a Wood but I doubt that's a relation. ;-)

Such a precious treasure, to be passed down along with its story, I'm sure.

nannergirl said...

As usual, I'm touched by your interesting stories...thanks for sharing :)

Libby said...

What a wonderful story to go along with your treasure. I think it speaks volumes about Sarah's life in the message, 'She hath done what she could,' we should all try to do the same.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I, too, have spent many hours sleuthing family history in cemeteries from PA to MI to ME and many points in between. How marvelous that such a tangible piece of Sarah's life has survived, with some of her story intact, and is in the possession of a woman who appreciates and treasures it... thank you for sharing!

Carrie P. said...

What a great idea. It is beautiful.

Cheryl said...

A wonderful, heartwarming story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Janet said...

What a great story! It made me remember that my mother had a gold thimble and I'm wondering what ever happened to it. A call to my sister may help. Thanks for another lovely post :)

julieQ said...

It is absolutely beautiful, an object to treasure and hand down. So pretty, and the story is prettier!

meggie said...

Lovely story Mrs G. Sadly, a lot of young women died needlessly after childbirth.
A lovely keepsake in Sarah's memory.
Love the Zoo Train, & also darling Hannes sitting on that quilt!!

sandra said...

Beautiful thimble and story! What a treasure to be able to keep Sarah's memory alive.

kutiekare said...

What a tremendous treasure and way to keep her memory alive.

lov said...

i was telling my mama about this, and she said that her grandmother has the same saying on her grave marker!
interesting! :)

Salem Stitcher said...

What a wonderful treasure you have in that thimble and knowing its story!

Tanya said...

What a wonderful pendant and a wonderful story.

MARCIE said...

Wonderful story to go along with a beautiful memento!

Bonnie said...

Thanks for resending me the link to your story after seeing your thimble yesterday. On the other side of things....I think Sarah Elizabeth Barker Wood would be honored to know that you carry her treasured thimble so close to your heart.

Bonnie