|The wedding quilt '83|
My mother was a quilt maker. And somehow, she always surprised you. Most remarkable were the wedding quilts. Sometime during our wedding receptions, each one of her five children opened up a box to find their velvet quilt inside. Small 4 x 4 squares of velvet, rich, deep colors of blues, greens, reds and browns. All hand stitched, large enough to cover a queen bed. And, amazingly enough, you never saw it coming. Never saw her place one stitch on the quilt, which had to have taken hundreds of hours to do amongst all the wedding preparations. Secret time, squirreled away at home, or on breaks at work.
Quick recall and mathematics (neither my strong point) puts her at a minimum of 25 quilts throughout my lifetime, which most likely really puts the number closer to 35 – 40. And almost all of them done by hand, not machine.
|The embroidered quilt - circa 1990|
And although the velvet ones were beautiful and luxurious, it was the personalized embroidered ones that were the most incredible. Again, all done in secret, individually embroidered squares, depicting holidays, seasons, and a myriad of details of you and your spouse’s lives, including hobbies, pets, occupations, homes, etc. These were the quilts that told the story of your lives before you came together as man and wife and the first few years of your marriage.
Five grandchildren all got smaller versions on the personalized embroidered ones and light throw quilts for their twin beds as they grew up.
|My lap quilt to mom|
Following her lead, I have made three quilts, all by hand. Two of them were large ones, one for my in-laws and one for my parents. Though I liked them both and they meant a lot to me, my favorite was the third, smaller lap throw that I made for my mom. In an old hope chest I was storing for my parents, were some articles of clothing. A favorite party dress of my mom’s from her early 20’s, and outfits from her five children. I stuck my courage to the sticking post that I wasn’t going to break her heart by cutting them up and made a lap quilt for her. Fortunately, all went well and it was well received. She kept it on her chair and many of her letters talked about her placing it over her legs on a cool evening and giving herself over to the memories that came with each square of material she slid her hand over.
I often lament that I didn’t get my mom’s creativity of her art or music. However I found through the years that we both shared a love of writing (although no fiction for her) and feel that I connected with the joy she felt in quilt making. I didn’t realize until I’d made one of my own that you are stitching a part of yourself into the quilt. I think of the hundreds of thousands of stitches in her quilts; that’s a lot of mom that we all share.