I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to (almost) guarantee that Queen Elizabeth II will visit with you

Delores E. Topliff

This post could also be called be called, How to turn flaws into art, because that’s what my British friend Elfreda (Freda) Alexander did throughout her life. Her daughter, Helen, told me that in 1921 at age 14, Freda went to work in a pool of girls trained and then sent two at a time to stately estate homes like Downton Abbey to repair ancient tapestries, and sometimes, even Royal tapestries. 

As a result Freda loved threads, yarns, wools, and all kinds of fibers all of her days. In a retirement home in old age when her mind was not clear, her daughter Helen cut small holes in certain things so Freda could enjoy mending them. Freda would ‘play’ for hours in the safety of the care home or a nearby park, 
I knew her after their family emigrated to Canada years before Freda entered a retirement home. Until then any sweater, towel, fabric, or blanket with a hole ended up not just being ‘darned’ to replace missing threads, but wonderfully embroidered until a new bird or flower or star or vine provided an end result so much lovelier than the original. I’m privileged to own two of Freda’s creations and show their photos here. The photos below are two halves of one piece but I couldn't quite get my technology to join them.

In married life, besides raising three children, she and her husband, Hugh, nurtured over one hundred Foster Children in their home in Middlesex and later Sussex, England. There, too, I imagine Freda identifying gaps and holes in those children and choosing the needed emotional threads, colors, and stitches to add loving designs to those who came to them. Perhaps they received some government ‘subsidy, but no payment could adequately repay the wonderful investment made.

How do you thank a devoted couple like that? Queen Elizabeth II found a way. When the queen once visited the area Freda was invited to meet the queen who personally said ‘thank you'. I’ve enjoyed seeing the photo and story from their local paper.

What about you? When you find blemishes or holes in writing or life, how do you mend them? What creative design do you bring to life's tapestry better that is better than what was there before? That is our wonderful life opportunity.


  1. What a beautiful post. I would have loved knowing Freda! Thanks for letting her live through your words.

  2. Delores, what a fabulous piece on my nan...thank you ��

  3. Wow! Not only a great post about a great lady, but a great lesson for all of us. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have learnt something new about Hugh & Freda today. When my parents separated in 1975 they took my mum and 3 brothers in for 3 months, it was a time of healing for me as I was depressed because of my parents situation. It was a house full of fun, mahjong and uniquely Freda recipes. I will never forget them.

    1. I didn't know THAT & appreciate your response. Now I'm interested in the uniquely Freda recipes. When you have time, please fill me in a little (probably via email or FB).

    2. I think Roberts post was 'tongue in cheek' Delores.😃
      I too remember mum's cooking...so will Julie and Jane. LOL
      But we loved her apple pie and fruit cake for sure.
      I always felt sad for her, even as a child. My dad's mother was an awesome cook...and he never let my poor mum forget it!!

  5. I only knew Hugh & Freda for a few years, but Freda made an impact on my life! How can one describe the love she poured into those around her? Like the Queen said, "Thank-you"! Lovely Story about a lovely lady!

  6. We packed some of her repaired blankets for Bulgaria. They weigh a ton as they are extra thick with wool completely covering both sides of the blanket, very warm on a cold day. Well they would be with all that heart in them!

  7. I absolutely loved this story. Than you Dee for bringing Freda's life, to life for us. Blessings on your own writing :)