Alpaca sweater

In Attire
My grandmother's alpaca sweater
My grandmother's alpaca sweater

My grandmother was ahead of her time. Born in Ironwood, a small town on the Michigan/Wisconsin border, she left home for Chicago as soon as she finished high school. She was fiercely independent, waiting to marry until she was nearly 30 (scandalous in those days), and became a war widow a few years later—my grandfather was a Marine in the Pacific in WWII. She raised my mom as a single mother, with all the challenges that entails, but never lost her determination, curiosity, and passion for learning and exploring. When my mom finished college and was out on her own, Grandma was finally able to fulfill her dream of traveling the world. In the 1960s and '70s, she visited countless countries including Mexico, China, Egypt, and Peru, making friends with strangers and bringing home souvenirs, many of which are now displayed in my home.  Grandma died when I was 10, which is when this alpaca wool sweater she got on a trip to Peru became mine. (It was years before I realized it was alpaca wool--I always called it her "llama sweater" because I thought that's what the animals pictured on it were; I'd never heard of alpacas.) Even though my grandma was several inches taller than I am, her sweater fits me perfectly. Every time I wear it, I think about her strength, courage, and sense of adventure, and I know that I inherited those along with her sweater.

Place(s): Peru, Michigan, Chicago

– Amanda Friedeman

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant