My Quilt

I am doing the Daily Press’s Weekly Writing Challenge again… Well, sort of… I am delayed and such, but I am doing this more because it made me feel inspired than to actually do the challenge.  I don’t know if this will become a real weekly thing or not.

The challenge this week is entitled “A Few of My Favorite Things.”  The notion is to write about something that is of more value to us than its perceived purpose.  I have a few of those sorts of things.  I am not an overly sentimental person (at least not that I would claim), but I guess somewhere in there, I kind of am.  In fact, I thought of a number of things in my life that are of value to me that aren’t really in the worldly sense.  I am sure I will exhaust these options at some point (with regards to writing about them), so I will just write about one today.  But, now I know of something to write about on one of those “I don’t know what to write days.”

The pick of the day today is a quilt.  And very worn and somewhat mangled homemade quilt.

I am pretty sure my mother would throw it out when she visits if I didn’t shoot dagger eyes and swear up and down I will fix it (because clearly I have the time and skill to fix a quilt).  And it is pretty girly for Patrick to love.

But it is going nowhere.  Even if it only surfaces on my bed or couch every once in awhile.
My Great Grandmother, Grandmemere (actually for most of my life it was Grosse Memere thanks to a small mispronounciation… Basically that means large grandmother… whoops), as we called her made this quilt.    And the quilts she made were beautiful.

Growing up, I always had pretty homemade quilts from my Mom’s Mom and My Dad’s Grandmother.  It was a win.  And my Great Grandmother’s quilts were the prettiest of all.  She entered them in fairs, sold them for raffles and made so many that our closets were stuffed full of quilts (to my dismay in some ways because every kid just wants a cartoon comforter).

My Great Grandmother with my lovely cousins C1 and C2 back in 2006.

Grandmemere was one of those people that always seemed genuinely happy.  She lived a few hours away, but whenever she visited or we visited she had a big smile and sparkly happy eyes. She worked for years in fish plants and then retired to a life of Bingo and quilting.  She loved to talk.  She tried to be polite and speak in English around my Mother, but whenever she got excited, the French came out.

She made quilts until I was in high school.  Then, like many people in my family (at least the women), she developped Alzheimer’s and stopped quilting.  Then, the quilts stopped appearing at random.  She would sit and rock and ask you the same two or three questions and stare blankly.  Her smile and eyes still sparkled, but it happened less and less as she got lost in the strange world Alzheimer’s patients get lost in.   She died the summer I went away to medical school, well into her 90s.

Since that time, many of the first quilts I remember became threadbare and turned into rags or trash. But, a few still hang on.

It isn’t like we were particularly close or anything.  In fact, once I was a teenager I only saw her a couple times a year, if that.  But, there was something about her you just couldn’t help but love. And the quilts give me some sort of connection to how I remember her best.  Quilting and bingo-ing and talking up a storm.

My quilt is one that I got as a kid.  It was made up of scraps of other quilts into big flowers on a pinkish background.  I loved to pick out each other quilt I recognized mixed in with my quilt.  I loved that it was more colorful than many of the others.  That it was different than everyone else’s. All that good stuff.

When I moved away, I insisted on bringing it with me.  Even though my Mom pointed out we had “nicer” ones around.

The thing is, the “nicer” ones aren’t worm around the edges, but they also don’t have the awesome design or history.

For some strange reason, my Great Grandmother’s quilt that is well used and starting to fall apart means a lot to me.  Even after I started buying grown up comforters.

My quilt makes me feel connected to my family.  Where I came from.  I know what beds housed the other quilts, who they mean something to.  I know what went into that quilt.  And I remember growing up with that quilt around.  It is familiar and safe.  It is like home, even when I am far from home and the people who are there.

A few of the ladies at my church once got together to make a quilt.  I went along because I figured if my Grandmother and Great Grandmother could quilt, then I could learn too.  And at that point, I knew both of them could not remember how to do it to show me themselves.
I shed blood for that quilt… Literally.  Quilting is very difficult when you have minimal manipulative skills.  But, it was amazing to learn the work and care that goes into a quilt.  It made me appreciate the quilts I have even more.  And I did learn (although I suspect they undid the little bit I tried to do promptly after I left).

It may just be an old quilt to most people.  But, to me, it is my history and my culture and a lot of love all wrapped up into some pretty fabric.  So, despite its tattered state, it isn’t going anywhere except back to our apartment.


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