Sadly he passed away last year, and my brother-in-law, Xavi, has had the joyless task of sorting out his affairs. And, last Saturday, in the course of doing so he very kindly gave me her sewing machine. It would be an understatement to say that I was delighted to have it.
Feast your eyes on this amazing machine.
The instruction manual is copyrighted 1968, so it probably dates from the late '60's/ early 70's. Mr B remembers her getting it. He says it cost about as much as a new Seat car would have done - well, ok, one of the little dinky ones.
My B and I spent a challenging hour last Sunday afternoon trying to push it up a spiral staircase to what is intended to be my sewing room. It was a case of making a square peg fit in a round hole, but the ingenious Mr B pulled the rabbit out of the hat by partly dismantling the stairs. He's a total mensch, Mr B. And we celebrated with double cortadas (the local coffee, which is a bit like an expresso with hot milk) and buñoles (very, very wicked Catalan doughnuts) when we finally got it to the top. Many more celebrations like that and there's a very real risk that Mr B and I won't fit in the little spiral staircase either!
And when I looked inside one of the drawers in the cabinet that the machine rests on I found some of Mama Pepita's samplers in her sewing box. Just look how beautifully she'd been putting her machine through its paces.
When I showed them to him, my husband said (in a slightly husky voice) that she was amazing - as a mum, as a seamstress and as a cook. He can remember her making all her own dresses, and those of his little sister, Carmen. For a moment it felt as though she were there in the room with us.
It's a huge tragedy when anyone passes before their time, but in the case of my mother-in-law she's left a long shadow.
All the best,