I have to start this story with some background first:
My mom made a lot of my clothes when I was a toddler and she made some fantastic formal dresses and things for herself. So awesome in fact, that when she was throwing one out, I kept it. It is in my closet today. She and I have never been the same size or shape. I am taller and had less bust. She is finer boned. But that dress in a beautiful 70’s avocado green is runway quality. I couldn’t just let her throw it away. I remember her wearing that with her hair teased up and sparkly earrings and jewelry looking like a movie queen when Dad took her to a big formal Dining Out Military Ball. She was beautiful. So the dress is mine! HA! Mom loved sewing and she did it really well.
I took home-ec in high school because I loved to cook. What I didn’t think about was that home-ec had a half semester of sewing which, being a tomboy, I didn’t have much time for. The result I created was the most horrendous rendition of a hippy shirt that even the most down and out hippy wouldn’t have worn it. We had to wear our creations to school and mine fell apart. My best friend, Nicole, saved me from total nudity by grabbing the shoulder seam and keeping it from falling on the floor. I do think I flashed my size AAA bra at some senior cutie though. I was sooooo embarrassed. That was pretty much my sewing experience until I was in my 40’s.
My mom was looking in my linen cupboard and fondling the quilt my great-grandmother had made for me. It was the last quilt Grannie ever made. Completely hand sewn from piecing to quilting with her very arthritic fingers. Of course I didn’t appreciate it as a fourth grader. I was into ‘pink’, pink carpet, pink walls, pink sheets, pink teddy bears. But I didn’t wear pink and I hated dolls. Also, I was a confirmed complete tomboy who liked helping my dad work on his cars. I was a tomboy who just happened to like pink to look at. Anyway Grannie’s quilt was green, as green as green could be, and covered in the most carefully stitched Sunbonnet Sue appliquéd dolls. So I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down when I got it in fourth grade. Mom told me I had to use it since Grannie worked so hard on it. I put it on my bed UNDER the pink coverlet.
Roll forward 40 plus years, to the day I caught my Mom trying to steal my quilt from Grannie. Mom told me she was taking it home since I didn’t appreciate it. HUH!?! What are you talking about!?! I said. She informed me.. I had it in the closet; and, not on a bed; and, since it was made with love; and, that I didn’t appreciate it because it wasn’t out on a bed. I kinda got mad.. okay, I got really mad.. what Mom didn’t know or remember was.. that quilt saw me through pneumonia in the hospital, that quilt went on all our US crazy nation crossing camping trips, that quilt went with me all over the United States of America after I grew up and left home, that quilt was the one I chose to curl up in watching late night movies (and still do), that quilt covered me and my dog when I was crying to myself over cancer trials and tribulations, that quilt was the first thing I took and packed when leaving my exes… all of them… all the boyfriends and jerks and all. That quilt lived my life with me and was the only thing I had from a great-grandmother I heard great stories about but never got to really know because my family lived all over the world, away from the relatives. That quilt was part of my life and gifted to me. Not to her. That quilt didn’t mean as much to her and it did to me. No way it possibly could. I lived some very emotional parts of my life and left gallons of tears on that quilt. But Mom didn’t know all that. All Mom knew was that I didn’t like it as a fourth grader and I hid it under the pink coverlet to hide it.
But I did realize something. She had her own story about Grannie. And that got Mom and I talking. We talked about other relatives and how she didn’t have very much in the way of material things to remind her of Grannie.
Mom is getting older and her children have not reproduced. I think sometimes that really gets to her. What legacy is left, what will be left behind? She wants to leave something that people will appreciate, care about and remember her by. She has done and incredible job and is still finding facts about our family history. It is fascinating. But what about the future. We talked around that subject, but I think that the future is what really was bothering her that day.
We talked about what Grannie’s quilt meant for each of us. Mom mentioned she always wanted to quilt. I asked her why she didn’t. Mom often just doesn’t do a thing because she thinks they will be too hard to do or she will be unsuccessful. I doubted Mom could make a bad quilt if she tried because I have seen her sewing skills and have the dress for proof. I told her that and I suggested that the only thing that can happen is that we make an awful quilt and we would really hide in our closet. not cause we are adults and don’t want a twin size sun bonnet sue on our king size bed.. but because we really should hide it. And we would see it and laugh, and it would be a legacy of her.
So, that was the day, Mom and I made a pact to start quilting.